The past few years have had headlines about women who use talc, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder are suing the company over their cancer diagnosis. They allege that there is a link between talc products and certain types of cancer like mesothelioma and ovarian cancer.
Thus far, Johnson & Johnson is facing some 17,000 lawsuits from individuals, mostly women, who have claimed that their Baby Powder caused them to develop cancer. The lawsuits have gone both ways. Numerous juries have found against the plaintiffs, but some have found in favor of the victims. One such lawsuit netted more than $4 billion for a group of more than 20 women who sued the company.
Now, NPR is reporting that a recent study may have found that talc powder use is not likely a risk for ovarian cancer. Researchers from the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Environmental Health Services and the National Cancer Institute have conducted the largest study to date of the link between genital powder use and ovarian cancer. The study was recently published in JAMA used data from 252,745 women who answered questions about their talc use in hygiene practices. Epidemiologist Katie O’Brien headed the study and stated that women reported whether they applied the powder directly or whether it was included in other feminine hygiene products.
The research found that women who used talc powder had an 8% increased risk of ovarian cancer compared to women who never used it. However, O’Brien did make sure to emphasize that the study needs to be understood in context. The lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is 1.3%, so an 8% increase to that is “small.”
However, for women who had their reproductive systems intact, the risk of ovarian cancer increased by 13%.
The study was limited. Researchers did not ask the women what kind of talc products they used or how frequently they used them. The study also consisted of primarily white women, while women of color are more likely to use baby powder.
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