Use of talc Powder and Risk of Ovarian Cancer

The most common cosmetic applications for talc are face, body, and baby powders, but it’s also used as an ingredient in color cosmetics, soap, toothpaste, antiperspirant, chewing gum, and drug tablets.

Following decades of studies conducted by medical experts across the globe, it has been demonstrated through science, research, and clinical evidence that few ingredients have the same performance, mildness, and safety profile as cosmetic talc.

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Talc, also known as talcum powder, is a naturally occurring mineral that is highly stable, chemically inert, and odorless. The grade of talc used in cosmetics is of high purity—comparable to that used for pharmaceutical applications—and it’s only mined from select deposits in certified locations before being milled into relatively large, non-respirable-sized particles.

Today, talc is accepted as safe for use in cosmetic and personal care products throughout the world.

Ovarian cancer is a common gynecologic cancer among women in developed countries, occurring at low rates among young women but increasing with age. The annual incidence rate of ovarian cancer during the period 2005–2009 was 12.7/100,000 women, varying by ethnicity.

The majority of ovarian cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage, with 61% having distant metastases at diagnosis. Hereditary risk factors for ovarian cancer, specifically BRCA1 gene mutations, increase the risk above 35 years of age by about 2–3%.

In recent decades, there has been increasing concern that perineal exposure to talc, a commonly used personal care product, might be associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer. However, the data describing this association is somewhat inconsistent.

In order to better characterize the potential ovarian cancer risk associated with perineal use of talc, we conducted a critical review and meta-analysis of peer-reviewed human studies on this issue.