Because African American women use hair relaxers more regularly than white women, and because African American women are more likely to develop breast cancer before age 45 than white women, researchers wanted to know if breast cancer was diagnosed more often in the women who used hair relaxers. The answer was no.
The researchers were confident about the results because the study involved a large number of women (more than 48,000) and followed them for about 8 years. Some of the women in the study used hair relaxers 7 or more times per year, and some women used relaxers for more than 20 years.
Researchers are trying to figure out why African American women are more likely to develop breast cancer at a younger age than white women. It's possible that this difference is due to many factors, including:
- delays in diagnosis
- environmental factors
Understanding the differences in the way breast cancer acts in different groups of women is one way that researchers can discover clues to the causes of breast cancer and may help develop new treatments.
We know that family history, genetics, diet, and lifestyle factors can influence a woman’s breast cancer risk. To learn more about risk and steps you can take to reduce your breast cancer risk, visit the breastcancer.org Lower Your Risk section.