Is talcum powder associated with ovarian cancer?

Talcum powder is used in many household products, including baby powder. There have been recent claims that the product causes ovarian cancer.

For decades, talcum powder has been a household staple for millions of homes in West Virginia and across the country. The substance is used in many hygienic products, including baby powder, deodorants and personal cleansers. Recent claims point to evidence that the use of talcum powder can cause certain types of illnesses, particularly ovarian cancer. Litigation regarding these claims has resulted in studies to determine the severity of the risk for consumers using products that contain talcum powder.

What is talcum powder used for?

The American Cancer Society describes talcum powder as a material that is made from oxygen, magnesium and silicon. Before processing, the substance is known as talc, and contains asbestos. Asbestos is a mineral known to cause cancer and other illnesses.

Products that contain talc are used for preventing rashes, keeping sensitive areas of the skin free of moisture and reducing friction. Certain types of cosmetics, such as face powder, also contain talcum powder. The majority of the risk in working with talc likely goes to those who mine and process the substance. However, some consumers have lately come forth claiming that using talcum powder resulted in ovarian cancer.

CBS News reported on two instances involving women who had used baby powder or other products containing talcum powder, and developed ovarian cancer. In both cases, a court ordered the manufacturer Johnson & Johnson to pay millions of dollars to the cancer victims or their families. However, Johnson & Johnson claims that there is no evidence that points to talcum powder causing cancer or other health risks. Numerous studies, the manufacturer points out, led to no definite conclusions connecting products containing talcum powder to ovarian cancer.

Studies may connect talcum powder and cancer

A study that was published in Cancer Prevention Research may suggest otherwise. According to the Guardian, after following the hygienic practices of 2,000 women, researchers determined that there may be up to a 30 percent increase in the risk of ovarian cancer for those who use talcum powder in intimate areas. The researchers believed that the powder may travel up to the ovaries and cause cancer when used for a prolonged period of time. There have been additional laboratory and patient studies that supported the claims of this study, although researchers vary on their opinions about the risk of using talcum powder.

There may need to be additional studies to prove a solid connection between these products and ovarian cancer. However, since talc has been associated with asbestos and serious illnesses, there may be substance to the claims of talcum powder causing cancer. It may help to speak with a West Virginia personal injury attorney with experience in asbestos-related illnesses.