Sunday, September 9, 2012

Do Chemical Hair Relaxers REALLY Cause Fibroids in Black Women?

Black women suffer from uterine fibroids at a rate that is two to three times greater than that of  their white counterparts.  Medical researchers have for years been stumped by the disparity.  Then, an article appeared in a 2011 edition of the prestigious American Journal of Epidemiology.  It asserted that the chemicals in hair relaxers used by African-American women to straighten their hair is the culprit.

Yes, we as black women should indeed lay off the relaxer for a whole host of reasons.  But hoping to shrink uterine fibroids is not one of them.
The researchers who wrote the article were trying to figure out what was “different” in black women relative to their white counterparts in order to understand the high rates of uterine fibroids among African-American women. The brainstorming went from hair to the chemical hair relaxers black women use. The reason I mention this is because the authors drew the wrong conclusions.

Because fibroids are more common among African-American women then white women, it is also true that those African-American women who have the largest degree of European ancestry will also have the lesser incidence of fibroids. But guess what?  Those are also the women least likely to use hair relaxer, because their European ancestry gives them wavy hair.  That is a big plus in the cultural aesthetic of the black community.  But it also means that these wavy-haired women, who tend not to use as much relaxer as black women with tightly curled hair, will have fewer fibroids anyway.   The reason is that the same European ancestry that confers the kind of hair texture that makes them least likely to use hair relaxers, also confers a statistically-diminished possibility that they will have fibroids.

So what then might account for the greater incidence of fibroids in African-American women?   Another vital difference between white and black women that has been overlooked is ancestral diet.  [And bytheway, when I use the term "black," I'm not referring to a race but rather to the population group that was transported from West Africa to America as slaves. Africans from other parts of the continent have a different food history].  In any case, I have been gathering a growing amount of anecdotal evidence, which points to a mainstream American diet including wheat-gluten and dairy products as the real culprit triggering fibroids in black women.

I do not know what the scientific mechanism is by which certain food substances cause symptoms unrelated to digestive issues. But what I do know is this.  If you are suffering from uterine fibroids, before getting surgery, having a hysterectomy,  or investing in expensive pharmaceuticals, please give yourself three months to try something that is virtually free.  Lay off dairy products and wheat-gluten and the fibroids will in all likelihood disappear.

So what's the caveat?  Eliminating wheat gluten from one's diet is easier said than done.  For blacks and other groups whose ancestral diet did not include gluten, that substance in wheat can cause opioid like cravings (See earlier post).  Fortunately, an array of gluten-free products are popping up in supermarkets, even though I'm annoyed to say that they're costly.  But isn't our health worth it?  After a month or so, the wheat-craving will disappear and you will look for more interesting foods rather than just those that substitute for gluten.  A gluten-free diet will also eliminate sugar cravings and probably melt away a few pounds in the process. 

Listen sisters.  We are bombarded with so many health and medical messages, that it's hard to take any of them seriously, especially if it was handed to us free-of-charge.  We think, that's not how America works.  So be it.  But please give this gluten/dairy-free diet a try and tell me if it worked for you (
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