FDA considers banning some hair-straightening products over possible cancer link

ByLeah Hope WLS logo
Tuesday, October 17, 2023
Hair-straightening products could be banned over possible cancer link
What is formaldehyde? The FDA proposed a ban on hair straightening products with a possible link to cancer.

CHICAGO -- A move by the federal government may lead to some hair straighteners pulled from shelves, including products most popular with African American women.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering banning hair straightening and smoothing products with formaldehyde or formaldehyde-causing ingredients.

"If formaldehyde is compound linked to these hair straighteners, if the data proves this is something we should be looking, at I'd be happy if it gets attention," said Dr. Nita Karnik Lee, a UChicago Medicine gynecological oncologist.

Lee said uterine cancers are on the rise worldwide, and African American women are more likely to have high-risk cancers.

"In a bigger picture, it raises awareness amongst all of us as consumers of items," Lee said.

Dr. William Dahut is the chief scientific officer for the American Cancer Society.

"I do think it makes sense that the FDA being very thoughtful and careful on this," Dahut said. "I hope they do comes up with a strategy to reduce the risk of cancer on our patients, so that's the ultimate goal for this, but to not simply focus on one agent. But, maybe look at the whole class."

Currently, the FDA urges consumers to read the labels and avoid chemicals such as formaldehyde, formalin or methylene glycol. The ban could start as early as April of next year.