Ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer. It is especially dangerous because it can go undetected until it has spread to other parts of the body, making it much more difficult to treat and resulting in a much lower survival rate. In the U.S., ovarian cancer affects about 21,000 women a year. It is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among women.
The first report that talcum powder increased the risk for ovarian cancer appeared in a 1971 study that found talc particles in the ovarian tissue of patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Scientists believe that talc particles enter a woman’s reproductive tract through the vagina and travel through the cervix into the uterus. After entering the uterus, talc particles move through the fallopian tubes to the ovaries. Talc particles can stay in the body for years after being used. Studies suggest that the talc particles cause inflammation that can lead to cancer.
How big is the risk of ovarian cancer?
Research shows that women who regularly use talcum powder in their genital area are three times as likely to develop ovarian cancer compared to women who do not regularly use talcum powder. One medical expert calculates that the use of talcum powder in a woman’s genital area leads to nearly 45 % of the new ovarian cancer cases found each year.
A doctor and expert at one of the recent trials against Johnson & Johnson testified that at least 45,000 women have died as a result of ovarian cancer caused by talcum powder use in the genital area and that an estimated 1,500 women will die within the next year as a result of talc use.