The real costs of African-American Women perming their hair
- Received June 15, 2011.
- Accepted September 9, 2011
Hair relaxers are used by millions of black women, possibly exposing them to various chemicals through scalp lesions and burns. In the Black Women’s Health Study, the authors assessed hair relaxer use in relation to uterine leiomyomata incidence. In 1997, participants reported on hair relaxer use (age at first use, frequency, duration, number of burns, and type of formulation).
From 1997 to 2009, 23,580 premenopausal women were followed for incident uterine leiomyomata. Multivariable Cox regression was used to estimate incidence rate ratios and 95% confidence intervals. During 199,991 person-years, 7,146 cases of uterine leiomyomata were reported as confirmed by ultrasound (n = 4,630) or surgery (n = 2,516). The incidence rate ratio comparing ever with never use of relaxers was 1.17 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.06, 1.30).
Positive trends were observed for frequency of use (Ptrend < 0.001), duration of use (Ptrend = 0.015), and number of burns (Ptrend < 0.001). Among long-term users (≥10 years), the incidence rate ratios for frequency of use categories 3–4, 5–6, and ≥7 versus 1–2 times/year were 1.04 (95% CI: 0.92, 1.19), 1.12 (95% CI: 0.99, 1.27), and 1.15 (95% CI: 1.01, 1.31), respectively (Ptrend = 0.002). Risk was unrelated to age at first use or type of formulation. These findings raise the hypothesis that hair relaxer use increases uterine leiomyomata risk.
Childhood hair product use and earlier age at menarche in a racially diverse study population: a pilot study.
Previous studies suggest that hair products containing endocrine disrupting chemicals could alter puberty. We evaluated the association between childhood hair product use and age at menarche in a racially diverse study population.
We recruited 300 African-American, African-Caribbean, Hispanic, and white women from the New York City metropolitan area who were between 18-77 years of age. Data were collected retrospectively on hair oil, lotion, leave-in conditioner, perm, and other types of hair products used before age 13. Recalled age at menarche ranged from 8 to 19 years. We used multivariable binomial regression to evaluate the association between hair product use and age at menarche (<12 vs. ≥12), adjusting for potential confounders.
African-Americans were more likely to use hair products and reached menarche earlier than other racial/ethnic groups. Women reporting childhood hair oil use had a risk ratio of 1.4 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.1-1.9) for earlier menarche, adjusting for race/ethnicity and year of birth. Hair perm users had an increased risk for earlier menarche (adjusted risk ratio = 1.4, 95% CI: 1.1-1.8). Other types of hair products assessed in this study were not associated with earlier menarche.
Childhood hair oil and perm use were associated with earlier menarche. If replicated, these results suggest that hair product use may be important to measure in evaluating earlier age at menarche.
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