An American woman who contracted uterine cancer after using chemical hair straightening products sold by L’Oreal USA sued the company on Friday. The complaint, filed in Illinois federal court, alleges that the woman’s cancer diagnosis “was directly and proximately caused by her regular and prolonged exposure to phthalates and other endocrine disrupting chemicals” found in L’Oreal products.
The woman, Jenny Mitchell, said in the civil lawsuit that she had used the products for more than two decades before she was diagnosed with uterine cancer and subsequently forced to undergo a full hysterectomy.
The suit comes just days after the publication of a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that established a link between the usage of chemical hair straightening products and the development of uterine cancer.
The study found that women who used hair straightening products more than four times a year were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer compared with others who did not use the products. The study involved 33,497 U.S. women between the ages of 35 and 74, who were evaluated over the course of almost 11 years. In that time, 378 participants were diagnosed with uterine cancer, according to the study.
Cancer of the uterus is relatively rare, but its incidence is rising in the United States, especially among Black women.
“Black women have long been the victims of dangerous products specifically marketed to them,” Ben Crump, a civil rights and personal injury attorney for Mitchell, said in a statement. Crump, who is representing Mitchell, was scheduled to speak about the lawsuit during a news conference on Monday afternoon.
Mitchell’s civil lawsuit seeks damages from the U.S. branch of L’Oreal, the French cosmetics giant, among other companies.
“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,” Crump said.
L’Oreal did not offer an immediate response to the suit.