COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Studies show millions of black people get hair relaxers when they are young. But there is at least one study that shows there might be a connection with fibroids.
Shana Jones has done her own research because she's worried she and others are at risk.
“A few years back, I had a black gynecologist who just mentioned to me that when I was having some issues with fibroids that there were some new studies that were coming out about relaxers and just the possibility that they could increase your occurrence of fibroids. Not saying they were directly linked but it could increase the occurrence of them," Jones said.
Jones has been wearing her natural hair now for five years. She’s also in the medical field with degrees from Clemson and a Ph.D from Emory University.
“I did my undergrad in biological sciences, but I have a Ph.D. in immunology and molecular pathogenesis, so I have done extensive research on not only genetics but immunizations on the molecular structure of the body and how certain illnesses and things that we intake and environmental things impact the body,” said Jones.
So, what is a fibroid? It is a non-cancerous tumor in the muscle of the uterus.
Dr. Albert Odom with Prisma Health says fibroids are statistically found two to three times more in African American woman.
“Women of color are much more likely to have uterine fibroids, they are more likely to have them at a younger age, and more likely to be larger and multiple,” said Dr. Albert Odom.
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2012 looked at hair relaxer use and risk of fibroids in African American women in the U.S. More than 23-thousand women were studied for 12 years. Researchers found the use of hair relaxers for long periods of time can cause burns or lesions on the scalp, which makes it easier for the chemicals to enter the body. The study shows there is a direct correlation between women who frequently use chemical relaxers and more fibroids by 5%. The researchers concluded that there might be a linK, which means more studies need to be done.
“When you think about us as black women when we start getting relaxers, the number of relaxers that you get every year and you look at the chemicals that are in those relaxers it’s not really that far fetched that these relaxers can impact your health in a negative way,” Jones said.
“Everybody has to make the decision for themselves, but if you can make this small change, and it can have a huge impact on your health than for me the decision was easy.” said Jones.