Jennifer Mitchell: Woman alleges L'Oreal's hair straightening products caused her uterine cancer in lawsuit

Jennifer Mitchell: Woman alleges L'Oreal's hair straightening products caused her uterine cancer in lawsuit
Jennifer Mitchell (R) has filed a lawsuit against L'Oreal for selling hair straightening chemicals that allegedly caused her uterine cancer (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for L'Oreal Paris and Screenshot/Daily Mail video)

ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS: A Missouri woman has reportedly sued beauty giant L'Oreal, claiming that she developed uterine cancer and was rendered infertile as a result of chemicals in the company's hair straightening products. Jennifer Mitchell, 32, lost the chance to conceive naturally after being diagnosed with the disease in 2018 and had to undergo a hysterectomy.

According to the Daily Mail, the 32-year-old claimed that she began using chemical hair straightening products in 2000 when she was in third grade and had no known cancer history. As per Mitchell, the phthalates and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals in L'Oreal products caused her cancer due to regular and prolonged exposure. A recent NIH study discovered that uterine cancer risk was doubled for individuals who used hair straightening chemical products more frequently than four times annually compared to those who used them less frequently. Although there is a "probable" correlation, scientists cannot say for sure that the items cause cancer. After learning about the study last week, Mitchell, a resident of Waynesville, claimed to have been "shocked" and speculated that "this could be the answer to my diagnosis."


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Mitchell's federal court complaint in Illinois was submitted a week after a government-funded study established the first relationship between chemical straighteners and uterine cancer. She told Good Morning America, “Not being able to carry my own children has been the hardest thing that I've ever had to deal with. This is a dream of mine that I've always wanted.”

In addition, Mitchell is bringing legal action against four additional businesses: Carson Inc in Georgia, Strength of Nature Global in Georgia, Dabur USA in New Jersey, and Namaste Laboratories in Illinois. According to Mitchell's lawsuit which was submitted to the federal court for the Northern District of Illinois, her cancer was “directly and proximately caused by her regular and prolonged exposure to phthalates and other endocrine disrupting chemicals” present in L'Oreal products. She is now asking for more than $75,000 in damages.

Around the time she was 10, Mitchell began using the products about once a month. However, she received the cancer diagnosis at the age of 28. She underwent a thorough hysterectomy to remove the womb and cervix to treat the malignancy. Until March 2022, she continued using the products without realizing they might have contributed to her disease, as per the Daily Mail.

Surrounded by people outside the court, she said, “I'm from a big family, I have six sisters, and that was something that I have always dreamed of becoming was a mother. I go in for my first appointment and as in most consultations, they do what they call is a vaginal ultrasound. During that appointment, he saw something that day — and he had to do a biopsy because he saw something in my uterine lining. Three days later I got a call, I am 28 years old and I was just diagnosed with uterine cancer. It was recommended that I have a full and total hysterectomy and in September 2018, that is when I had a full and total hysterectomy. At that time at the age of 28, my dreams of becoming a mother were gone. I am 32 years old right now, and I am still feeling that void of not being able to bear my own child.”

Her lawyer Ben Crump expressed his horror at learning that chemical hair straighteners can lead to uterine cancer. He asserted that businesses had to be aware of any potential health dangers associated with their products. “Black women have long been the victims of dangerous products, specifically marketed to them. 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 profits.”

In the lawsuit, L'Oreal and the other four firms are accused of negligently failing to warn consumers, selling items with design or manufacturing flaws, acting grossly negligently, and making negligent misrepresentations. Additionally, it charges them with fraud, false concealment, warranty breaches, and careless failure to recall.

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