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L’Oreal hit with lawsuit for products containing chemicals

L'Oreal to deal with lawsuit as woman claims product carries chemicals that gave her cancer
L'Oreal to deal with lawsuit as woman claims product carries chemicals that gave her cancer

Image source: CNN

L’Oreal is among the parties getting sued over claims that chemicals in its products put women at risk of developing uterine cancer.

The lawsuit

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump and attorney Diandra “Fu” Debrosse Zimmermann are among those who filed a lawsuit in Illinois on Friday.

The lawsuit is in the name of Jenny Mitchell, a 32-year-old woman from Missouri.

L’Oreal and other hair care products are key contributions to Mitchell’s uterine cancer.

They allege that the regular and prolonged exposure contributes to the cancer.

According to them, the products contain phthalates and other chemicals that disrupt the endocrine system.

Debrosse Zimmermann said the lawsuit marks a “watershed moment” for women of color who use hair products like relaxers.

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Jenny Mitchell

The lawsuit says Jenny Mitchell received her uterine cancer diagnosis in 2018.

Additionally, she underwent a total hysterectomy at Boone Hospital in Missouri on September 24, 2018.

Mitchell also says her family has no history of cancer.

She spoke at a press conference on Monday and said she started straightening her hair when she was eight.

“At that time, at the age of 28, my dreams of becoming a mother were gone,” said Mitchell.

“As most young African-American girls, chemical relaxers, chemical straighteners were introduced to us at a young age.”

“Society has made it a norm to look a certain way, in order to feel a certain way,” she continued.

“And I am the first voice of many voice to come that will stand, stand up to these companies, and say, ‘No more.'”

From the early 2000s to March 2022, Jenny Mitchell used L’oreal and other products to straighten her hair.

As a result, she is asking for $75,000 in damages.

Other cases

Jenny Mitchell isn’t alone.

In addition, two other individual lawsuits against L’Oréal and other cosmetic companies are set for settlements in California and New York.

The two cases also claim a link between chemicals for straightening hair and cancer diagnoses.

“We imagine that we will continue representing additional women in filing cases,” said Debrosse Zimmerman.

“As will other firms, and more and more women will come forward.”

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Mitchell’s lawsuit arrives days after a publication with a study relating to her case by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The publication states that 4% of women who frequently use hair straightening chemicals are at risk of developing uterine cancer by age 70.

Additionally, the study estimates that women who have not used hair-straightening chemicals in the past 12 months have a 1.6% risk of developing uterine cancer.

The study also found that Black women were more likely to use hair-straightening products than white women.

Furthermore, data shows that the relationship between hair straightening products and cervical cancer cases was most evident among Black women.

However, Block women comprise only 7.4% of study participants, and 59.9% reported using hair straighteners.

Meanwhile, other factors play a role in the frequent use of hair-straightening products, such as:

  • Eurocentric standards of beauty
  • Social pressure on Black and Latina women in the work environment relating to microaggression and threat of discrimination
  • Desired versatility in changing hairstyles and self-expression

“Black women have long been the victims of dangerous products specifically marketed to them,” said Ben Crump.

“Black hair has been and always will be beautiful, but Black women have been told they have to use these products to meet society’s standards.”

“We will likely discover that Ms. Mitchell’s tragic case is one of countless cases in which companies aggressively misled Black women to increase their products.”


US woman files lawsuit against L’Oreal, claiming chemical hair straightening products are linked to her cancer

Opinions expressed by Portland News contributors are their own.