A recent study revealed that hair care and beauty products marketed to Black women contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals referred to as parabens, leading to an increased risk of breast cancer in the group of women.
According to Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, parabens mimic the effects of hormones and prevent mold, yeasts, and bacteria from growing. The chemical is added to beauty products to prolong the shelf life. In addition to being in hair care and personal products like lotions, they can also be found in chewing gum and mouthwash.
Researchers discovered parabens incite the growth of cancerous breast cells in Black women, yet the exact dosage didn’t affect white breast cancer cell lines. Parabens increase the appearance of breast cancer-linked genes in Black and white women.
“Black women are more likely to buy and use hair products with these types of chemicals, but we do not have a lot of data about how parabens may increase breast cancer risk in Black women,” Lindsey S. Treviño said in a press release. “This is because Black women have not been picked to take part in most research studies looking at this link.”
The Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s website data from the American Cancer Society states Black women have a 41% higher mortality rate compared to white women. And among women under 50, the difference is even more significant.
The study is a part of a community-led research project called the Bench to Community Initiative (BCI). It aims to reduce exposure to parabens in the beauty and personal care products that sisters use.
“While this project focuses on Black women, the knowledge we gain about the link between exposure to harmful chemicals in personal care products and breast cancer risk can be used to help women at high risk of getting breast cancer,” Treviño said.
The study was presented at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday.