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Does Talcum Powder Cause Ovarian Cancer?

It’s been suggested that regular use of talcum powder products in the genital area might increase the possibility of ovarian cancer.

In theory, particles of talc could travel through the reproductive tract to the ovaries and cause cancer. Research on this potential link has yielded mixed findings, with some studies finding a small increase in risk.

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The largest study to examine the question, published in early 2020, found no statistically significant link between genital talc use and ovarian cancer. But despite its size (with data from 252,745 women, 38% of whom said they used talc in their genital area), it may not have been large enough to detect a small increase in risk because few of the women developed ovarian cancer, the study authors stated.

Many of these studies suffer from incomplete data about the patient's family history of ovarian or breast cancer, as well as the duration and frequency of use of a powder, said Panos Konstantinopoulos, MD, Ph.D., director of translational research in gynecologic oncology at the Susan F. Smith Center for Women in Cancer Fund -Farber.

"For the most part, the population-based studies have shown a statistically significant association between the use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer risk, whereas hospital-based research shows that this relationship was not statistically significant," he said.

In addition, the study found no increased risk with increased exposure to powder, and there is no evidence that using the powder in another part of the body affects the risk of ovarian cancer.