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Racial/Ethnic Differences in Hormonally-Active Hair Product Use: A Plausible Risk Factor for Health Disparities


Estrogen and endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that are associated with several health outcomes have been found in hair products. We evaluated the proportion, frequency, duration, and content of hair products in a racially/ethnically diverse population. We recruited n = 301 African-American, African-Caribbean, Hispanic, and white women from the New York metropolitan area. We collected data on hair oil, lotion, leave-in conditioner, root stimulator, perm, and other product use. Estrogen and EDC information was collected from commonly used hair products’ labels (used by >3% of population). African-American and African-Caribbean women were more likely to use all types of hair products compared to white women (P < 0.0001). Among hair product users, frequency varied significantly by race/ethnicity, but not duration. More African-Americans (49.4%) and African-Caribbeans (26.4%) used products containing placenta or EDCs compared to whites (7.7%). African-American and African-Caribbean women were more likely to be exposed to hormonally-active chemicals in hair products.

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Andrea Deierlein, Ghasi Phillips, Gonzalo Maldanado, Denise Esserman, Lina Titievsky, Teresa Janevic, Kellee White, Danella Hafeman, Sharon Schwartz, study and focus group participants. This project was funded by a pilot grant from The Jean Sindab African-American Breast Cancer Project.

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Correspondence to Tamarra James-Todd.

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James-Todd, T., Senie, R. & Terry, M.B. Racial/Ethnic Differences in Hormonally-Active Hair Product Use: A Plausible Risk Factor for Health Disparities. J Immigrant Minority Health 14, 506–511 (2012).

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  • Personal care products
  • African-American
  • Endocrine disruptors