Ovarian Cancer and Talcum Studies

Talc-Cancer Link Should be No Surprise

The fact that talc is even being questioned as an ovarian cancer risk may surprise some medical professionals, despite the fact that there have been more than 20 well-executed, case-control studies that support the association over the last 30 years. The evidence that talc can migrate to the ovaries dates back to at least 1971, when British surgeons reported a study that found 10 of 13 ovarian and cervical tumors had “talc particles deeply embedded” in the tumor tissue.

Talc naturally co-occurs with asbestos, and it was theorized in the past that asbestos contamination of talc may have been the cause of any increased risk for ovarian cancer. However, talc powders in the United States became asbestos-free in the 1970s, and yet case-control studies since then have continued to show an association with ovarian cancer.

Sanitary Napkin Dangers

A woman can be expected to use thousands of disposable sanitary napkins in her lifetime, despite a growing body of research on the health risks and environmental impact associated with the products.

A case-control study at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore found a 379% increased risk for epithelial ovarian cancer from sanitary napkins that had been sprinkled with talc. While this study directly links the use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer, there are other harmful chemicals that can be found in sanitary napkins and tampons that may present health risks, including:

  • Dioxin – used to bleach the cotton after harvesting
  • Rayon – another synthetic polymer added to enhance the absorbing capacity
  • Pesticides and Herbicides – sprayed on cotton crops, and can remain present after harvesting
  • Artificial Fragrances and Deodorants – added during manufacturing, may cause allergies and skin reactions