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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A review of hair product use on breast cancer risk in African American women

  • Author(s): Stiel, Laura
  • Adkins-Jackson, Paris B
  • Clark, Phyllis
  • Mitchell, Eudora
  • Montgomery, Susanne
  • et al.

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The incidence rate of breast cancer for African American women has recentlyconverged with that of non-HispanicWhite women in the United States, although African Americans have a higher mortality rate due to this disease.Although most research exploring health disparities associated with this phenomenon has focused on differences between women based on biology andbehavior, both the academic and lay communities have begun to explore thepotential role of environmental exposure to estrogen and endocrine disruptingchemicals (EDCs). This study reviews the current state of the science associatingone such means of exposure, hair products containing EDCs, with breast cancer risk in African American women. We found a growing body of evidence linking:(1) environmental estrogen and EDC exposures to breast cancer risk, (2)the presence of such chemicals in personal care products, including hair products,and (3) the use of certain hair products with potential breast cancer risk inAfrican Americans. At the same time, there is also increasing concern in thelay community about this risk. These results indicate the need for additionalresearch, and the opportunity to benefit from strategic partnerships in community-collaborative approaches in order to better understand the potential “cost ofbeauty.”

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