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Talcum powder dust and stethoscope on medical chart

At least 26 published epidemiologic studies have examined the link between genital talc use by women and ovarian cancer since the 1970s. With surprising consistency, rigorous research by some of the most respected scientists and medical experts in the world have documented strong links between talc and ovarian cancer. These findings have remained consistent even as the test methodology has become more rigorous and as talc suppliers have removed known cancer-causing asbestos particles from talc supplies.

  • Harlow et al. 1992: Combined results from six case control studies between 1982 and 1989 and found that ovarian cancer risk was 50 percent greater for women who applied genital talc. The research also found that as lifetime talc dose increased, so did ovarian cancer risk.

“A ‘real’ statistically significant association has been undeniably established”
– Dr. Bernard Harlow, leading ovarian cancer researcher from Harvard Medical School

  • Cook et al. 1997: Direct perineal use of talc powder yielded a 60 percent increase in risk of ovarian cancer diagnosis. The study revealed a trend in which more lifetime applications of talc led to a higher cancer risk.
  • Green 1997: Perineal talc use elevated risk of ovarian cancer by 30 percent.
  • Cramer 1999: Genital use of talc powder yielded a 60 percent increase in cancer risk and a 70 percent increase for serious invasive ovarian cancer. This study also found that increased applications of talc resulted in higher cancer risk and prompted a call by the authors for public health warnings about talc dangers.
  • Ness et al. 2000: Women who applied talc to genital areas at least once per month for six or more months had a 50 percent increase in ovarian cancer risk and a 60 percent increase in risk when talc was applied to sanitary napkins.
  • Mills et al. 2004: Women who used genital talc had a 51 percent elevated risk for invasive epithelial ovarian cancer.
  • Cramer et al. 2015: Perineal talc use was associated with a 33 percent increase in ovarian cancer risk. This study also found increased risk of ovarian cancer with prolonged talc exposure over time.
  • A 2008 meta-analysis on behalf of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reviewed all prior epidemiologic studies and identified eight studies with the best methodologies. These well-designed studies all found that talc users were significantly more likely to develop ovarian cancer with more talc applications. This meta-analysis found the increased risk of talc use associated with ovarian cancer falls squarely in the range of 30 to 60 percent and likely around 40 percent. Based on this study, the IARC concluded that talc is a “possible carcinogen.”
  • Terry et al. 2013 – the most recent meta-analysis – compiled 20 to 30 years of data and found a significant causation link between talc applications and ovarian cancer.
  • Even research funded by Johnson & Johnson (Gross & Berg 1995 and Huncharek 2003) has found statistically significant cancer risks associated with genital talc use.