Can using baby powder for personal hygiene cause ovarian cancer?

Talcum powder is a popular home product and has been believed to be harmless. However, some studies suggest it may cause ovarian cancer.

Talcum powder is a product that is used in millions of homes in North Carolina and across the country. While people have long believed the substance to be perfectly safe, some statistics are claiming the opposite. This is especially true for those who work with the material before it is processed into products used in the home. However, consumers may also be at risk.

What is talcum powder and what is it used for?

Talcum powder is the product most commonly known as baby powder. Many consumers appreciate its ability to reduce friction on the body, prevent rashes and keep skin moisture-free. The material is also used in some cosmetics, such as face powder.

According to the American Cancer Society, talcum power is made from talc. This is a material comprised of silicon, magnesium and oxygen. Talc in its unprocessed form also contains asbestos, a mineral that has long been known to cause mesothelioma, other types of cancer and lung diseases. Many people do not realize that talc contains asbestos, which could result in an unexpected diagnosis for those who work with or use the product. Talcum powder used in the home does not contain asbestos, which has led many to believe it is perfectly safe. However, some recent studies may suggest that talcum powder leads to an increased risk of certain cancers, particularly ovarian cancer.

Talc's association with cancer

The Guardian reported on a study in 2003 that followed about 2,000 women. The study, which was published in Cancer Prevention Research, determined a risk increase of 20 to 30 percent for ovarian cancer in women who use talcum powder in the genital area. It is believed that ovarian cancer caused by talcum powder may occur when the powder travels up to the ovaries when used for personal hygiene in this way.

Additional studies in laboratories and with human patients suggested the same, although there were widely mixed results. The studies also pointed to evidence that talc miners and others who are exposed to the substance over a long period of time have an increased risk of lung cancer and other serious respiratory conditions.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer

It may help to understand the possible signs of ovarian cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer is unfortunately the most detectable after it has spread past the ovaries, although symptoms may show up in the disease's early stages. They include the following:

  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Bloating or feeling full
  • Urinary frequency or urgency
  • Pain during sex
  • Back pain
  • Menstrual problems

If you develop serious health problems after using talcum powder or working with talc for a long period of time, you will need to contact an experienced mesothelioma and cancer attorney in Salisbury.