JAN 11, 2020 6:13 AM PST

Should we be concerned about talc powder and ovarian cancer?

After the outcry against baby powder and concerns regarding its link to ovarian cancer, still, no investigations have clearly linked the product to the disease. Nevertheless, caution is advised, urge experts.

The most recent study on the topic was published recently in JAMA and conducted with over 250,000 women, making it the most extensive study yet. However, Katie O'Brien from the Chronic Disease Epidemiology Group at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the United States National Institute of Health, and her co-authors say that it still might not be large enough to come to any significant conclusions.

"Previous studies had reported a possible positive association between genital powder use and ovarian cancer, but my co-authors and I saw an opportunity to do a very large study that also addressed some of the potential limitations of the previous ones," stated O’Brien. [Yet] "Despite being the largest study to date, it was not big enough to detect a small change in risk of ovarian cancer, which is a fairly rare cancer."

The study analyzed data on genital powder from four cohort studies: Nurses' Health Study, Nurses' Health Study II, Sister Study, and the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study. Encompassing data from 257,044 women, the research team wanted to see if there was a definitive association between using genital powder and developing ovarian cancer.

Their findings showed that there was not a significant association between the two. "In this pooled analysis of four large U.S. cohorts, there was no statistically significant association between self-reported use of powder in the genital area and risk of ovarian cancer," the authors write in the paper.

Does talc powder show an association with ovarian cancer? Photo: Pixabay

Nevertheless, the authors caution that their study, despite its size, was restricted by certain limitations in terms of data collection and sub-populations. To strengthen their findings, more analyses should be conducted, they urge, while at the same time noting the unlikeliness of this, given the limited information available for investigation.

Sources: JAMA, Medical News Today

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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