Analysis Finds Link Between Talc Powders, Ovarian Cancer
WebMD News Archive
Whysner writes that most studies have found that an increased risk for
ovarian cancer is associated with exposure to talc power. "None [has] found
an increased risk associated with ... cornstarch powders," he says.
Charles J. Dunton, MD, a professor of gynecology and oncology at Jefferson
Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, tells WebMD,
"There's not a cause for women to get overly upset if they've used talc in
the past. The association is not that strong, and besides, it's all statistics,
and there might be ... factors that cause the statistics to be
Also, because asbestos used to be found in talc powders, some of the early
findings may be distorting the current picture, Dunton says. "Most of the
baby powders now contain cornstarch rather than talc, but there are products
like Shower-to-Shower that contain a lot of talc. ... Although the risk is very
minimal, I would avoid talc in the [vaginal] area. That's the take-home
Ira Horowitz, MD, PhD, professor and vice chairman of gynecology/obstetrics
and director of gynecologic oncology at Emory University School of Medicine in
Atlanta, tells WebMD, "What I tell my patients is that there looks like
there might be a causal relationship between talc and ovarian cancer ... [but]
there's a lot we don't know."
- A new study has shown that dusting the vaginal area with powders containing
talc may slightly increase a woman's risk of ovarian cancer.
- Talc is a mineral compound similar to asbestos, and the two are often found
together in geological formations, which might explain the increased cancer
- Women should opt for cornstarch over talc powders. But there's no need to
panic, as the increased risk of cancer is small, asbestos contamination is
better controlled today than in the past, and the information on any
association between talc and cancer is not complete.