The Link Between Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer
Recently, there have been several lawsuits in the news in favor of women whose alleged use of talcum powder over decades contributed to their getting ovarian cancer. The lawsuits, however, do not necessary prove talcum powder causes ovarian cancer; that conclusion is left to science.
But science is yet to find any real and solid evidence linking the use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer. Some research suggests perineal (genital) use of talcum powder may contribute to ovarian cancer risk, but the evidence isn’t clear or consistent.
It is also unclear how actually talcum powder would cause ovarian cancer — one theory is that particles travel from the pelvic area to the ovaries and cause inflammation. Inflammation may eventually cause cancer development and lead to the formation of cancerous tumors.
One 2013 report that analyzed several ovarian cancer/talc studies, published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, finds a possible 20 to 30 percent increased risk for ovarian cancer associated with perineal-powder use.
Here is what you need know about any connection between ovarian cancer and talcum powder use, based on the limited research.
Talc May Contain Asbestos
Talc is a fine, powder-like mineral used in various consumer products, including cosmetics and other personal care products, some foods — such as rice and gum — and even in some medicines.
Talc may be contaminated with asbestos. Asbestos, like talc, is a naturally occurring mineral, and the two are generally found in close proximity to one another in the ground. But asbestos is a carcinogen (a cancer-causing substance).
In the United States, all talcum powder products manufactured domestically have been asbestos-free since the 1970s. But there are talcum-based products that make it into the country from overseas companies and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cannot assure their safety.
Studies conducted by the FDA in response to recent lawsuits of talc-containing productions, including eye shadow, blush, foundation, face powder, and body powder, did not find any evidence of asbestos fibers in the samples used. The FDA researchers did note the shortcomings of the research, including the small sample size.
The FDA cautioned that the results of the study were informative and not evidence that most or all talc containing products in the United States were asbestos-free.