Skip to main content

Largest talc study gives no clear link to ovarian cancer

High school friends raise millions for cancer research

Student Movement Against Cancer (SMAC) founders Rob Mattar and David Baumwoll discuss how they raised more than $2 million for cancer research.

CHICAGO (Reuters) – U.S. researchers who conducted the largest study yet into whether applying powder to the genitals increases a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer were unable to definitively put to rest the issue that has prompted thousands of lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson and other companies.

Continue Reading Below


Overall, the study did not find a significantly increased risk of ovarian cancer, but there appeared to be a heightened risk among certain women who used the products.

The data found that women with an intact reproductive tract – those who never had a hysterectomy or their tubes tied – who reported using baby powder had a 13 percent higher risk of developing ovarian cancer compared to women who never used the product. That risk rose to 19 percent among women who used baby powders at least once a week.

The U.S.-funded study published in the medical journal JAMA on Tuesday pooled data on 252,745 women from four government studies that asked women whether they had ever used powder on their genitals. The study did not consider individual brands.

The data, compiled by a team at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), set out to provide a clear answer to whether use of such powders could cause ovarian cancer when applied near the genitals.

Instead, “we got an ambiguous answer,” said Katie O’Brien, an NIEHS epidemiologist who led the study.

“This was the largest study ever done, but because ovarian cancer is such a rare disease, it was still not big enough to detect a very small change in risk,” O’Brien said.

Prior studies have largely relied on asking women who had already developed ovarian cancer if they remember ever using baby powder on their genitals.

Such retrospective studies “can sometimes find links that do not exist,” Susan Gapstur, senior vice president of Behavioral and Epidemiology Research at the American Cancer Society, said in an email.

“The analysis by O’Brien and colleagues provides incremental insight into the link between genital powder use and ovarian cancer risk but does not provide the definitive evidence,” Gapstur said.


About 40 percent of the women overall said they used baby powder. A total of 2,168 in the studies developed ovarian cancer, which has a lifetime risk of 1.3 percent.

Overall, the team found that women who had ever used talc for feminine hygiene during their lifetimes had an 8 percent increased risk of developing ovarian cancer compared with those who were not exposed. That difference was deemed to be not statistically significant.

Given that ovarian cancer is rare, O’Brien said, “that amounts to an additional nine ovarian cancer cases per 10,000 women. That’s pretty small.”

The prevailing theory of how powder could cause ovarian cancer is that it would travel up the vagina, through the cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes and come into contact with the ovaries, where it causes inflammation that leads to cancer.

To examine this more closely, O’Brien and colleagues looked specifically at women with intact reproductive tracts. Among this group the higher risk among powder users was statistically significant, they found.

In an editorial accompanying the paper, Dr. Dana Gossett of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues, cautioned that women who had their tubes tied or hysterectomies might have used talc before these procedures, so stratifying women this way does not clearly translate into whether a woman has been exposed or not.

Gossett, who was not involved with the study, said the finding of higher risk of ovarian cancer in women with intact reproductive tracts is below the size that most epidemiologists consider important.

The team could not determine what type of powder was used, and information on frequency of powder use differed by study group.

J&J, which faces more than 16,000 lawsuits claiming its baby powder and talc products cause cancer, said the finding of no statistically significant association between powder use and ovarian cancer affirms the safety of its products.

“The facts are that Johnson’s Baby Powder is safe, does not contain asbestos, and does not cause cancer,” the company said in a statement.


The study did not address the possibility of exposure by breathing powder into the lungs. Some consultants hired by plaintiff attorneys who blame their client’s ovarian cancer on asbestos contamination in talc say inhaled powder can be a cause of ovarian cancer.

O’Brien said the study specifically focused on application to the genital or perineal area.

“We did not attempt to estimate exposure due to inhalation. That would be extremely difficult, given the information we had to work with.”

Source: Read Full Article


Popular posts from this blog

Google accused of creating 'creepy' spy tool to squelch worker dissent

Google workers are accusing the company of developing an internal surveillance tool that they believe will be used to monitor their attempts to organise protests and discuss labour rights.Earlier this month, employees said they discovered that a team within the company was creating the new tool for the custom Google Chrome browser installed on all workers' computers and used to search internal systems. The concerns were outlined in a memo written by a Google employee and reviewed by Bloomberg News, and by three Google employees who requested anonymity because they aren't authorised to talk to the press.The tool would automatically report staffers who create a calendar event with more than 10 rooms or 100 participants, according to the employee memo. The most likely explanation, the memo alleged, "is that this is an attempt of leadership to immediately learn about any workers organisation attempts."Google is using the new software tool to police its own workers amid r…

At Least 23 People Dead in Australia Bushfires As Blazes Continue Raging

SYDNEY (AP) — A father and son who were battling flames for two days are the latest victims of the worst wildfire season in Australian history, and the path of destruction widened in at least three states Saturday due to strong winds and high temperatures.The death toll in the wildfire crisis is now up to 23 people, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said after calling up about 3,000 reservists to battle the escalating fires, which are expected to be particularly fierce throughout the weekend.“We are facing another extremely difficult next 24 hours,” Morrison said at a televised news conference. “In recent times, particularly over the course of the balance of this week, we have seen this disaster escalate to an entirely new level.”Dick Lang, a 78-year-old acclaimed bush pilot and outback safari operator, and his 43-year-old son, Clayton, were identified by Australian authorities after their bodies were found Saturday on a highway on Kangaroo Island. Their family said their losses left them…

It will take 100 years for women to earn the same as men at this rate

The wage gap between men and women is 20%, meaning women get paid 80 cents to every $1 men earn, according to a recent study.The pay gap narrowed about 2% in the last ten years. If things don't improve, it will take a century for women to reach equal pay, according to Goldman Sachs.The firm said at least part of the unexplained gap could be due to the lack of women in highly-paid senior roles, despite being on average more educated than men.It could take a century for women to be paid as much as men, if things stay as they are now.The wage gap between men and women is 20%, meaning women get paid 80 cents for every $1 men earn. In the last ten years, the pay gap only narrowed about 2%, and if performance stays consist with the past decade's, it would take 100 years to reach equal pay, according to Goldman Sachs."The latest data show there's more work to do," said Amanda Hindlian, global COO of global investment research at Goldman Sachs in a note titled "Clos…