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For the past few years, there have been numerous reports in the media that suggest that talcum powder causes ovarian cancer. Our pharmaceutical experts answer the question – does talcum powder cause ovarian cancer?
The rumour about talcum powder causing ovarian cancer first came about many decades ago. It stems from many women using talcum powder in their external genital area. These rumours even led to lawsuits against companies such as Johnson & Johnson.
The studies that these rumours stemmed from may have been flawed, because they relied on women with and without cancer being asked to remember if they had used talc on their vulva. Women with cancer are more likely to remember or mention something that could be linked to cancer than women without, meaning these studies could have biased results.
A new research project combined information from 4 large studies that asked women a range of questions – including about talc use – and then followed up the questions for an average of 11 years. This study found that women who used talc were no more likely to have developed ovarian cancer than those who did not use it.
The study is reassuring; however, the researchers do point out that as ovarian cancer is quite rare, they cannot rule out a very small increase in risk even with a large study.
An overall summary of the reports were that the 252,745 eligible women in the studies were followed up for an average 11.2 years. Of these women, 38% said they had used talc on their vulva and 2,168 women developed ovarian cancer. That represents 58 cases for every 100,000 women per year.
If you have felt worried that use of talcum power near your genital area has put you at increased risk of ovarian cancer, this study should provide reassurance. Although a small increase in risk cannot be ruled out altogether, any increase is likely to be very small as it was not enough to show up in this study. So any adverse effect on a wider population level, if it does actually exist, is likely to be tiny.
This article was written by the pharmaceutical experts at RXLive online pharmacy, who post repeat prescriptions to you for free! You may wish to consider using services such as RXLive, which provide a free delivery service to ensure you never miss your medication again and have a dedicated pharmacist ready to chat at all times. You can sign-up to the service here – completely free!
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