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Study Designates Talc Powder an Ovarian Cancer Risk

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Yashica Kaushal2 years ago

A new study has linked talcum powder to a 33-percent increase in the risk for ovarian cancer, specifically when the powder is applied to the genital region.

Study Ties Talc to Ovarian Cancer

According to Medical Daily, talcum powder is used in cosmetic products like baby powder, adult powder, and face powder. Talc is used to absorb moisture and some talc previously contained asbestos, which has been linked to cancers in and around the lungs when inhaled. 

Johnson & Johnson was recently ordered to pay $72 million in damages to a now-deceased woman whose family says that the talcum products caused her ovarian cancer and wrongful death.

A new study in the medical journal Epidemiology supports that assertion. 

Research conducted by Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston cited that talcum powder has been linked to the cancer.  They recruited 2,041 with ovarian cancer and 2,100 without the disease and asked them about their talcum powder usage to try to find the link. 

The results showed that applying the products to sanitary napkins, genitals, and underwear increased the risk of developing the cancer by a third. The risks depend on other factors like weight, menopausal hormone use, and smoking habits.

Dr. Daniel Cramer, lead physician in the study, asserted that it’s an easily modified risk factor. He says that if people knew that the powder could get into your vagina and then their upper genital tract people wouldn’t use it like that. He first discovered the link in 1982 and called for companies to put warning labels on their products but no company agreed.

Doubts about the Study

Dr. Nicolas Wentzensen, head of the clinical epidemiology unit for the National Cancer Institute, said that “this new study was not of the most rigorous possible design”.

He says that there will need to be further testing to support the association between talc and ovarian cancer. They need to test the methods used in this study with other findings to see if the correlation is confirmed. 

More Information about Ovarian Cancer

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Ovarian cancer is the 8th most common cancer.
  • It is the 5th leading cause of cancer death.
  • Over 20,000 women every year are diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
  • It accounts for 3 percent of all cancers in women.


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