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Talcum powder ‘poses cancer risk to women’

Thursday, May 1st, 2008 | Health

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The practice of discreetly puffing underwear with a dab of talcum powder may be increasing women’s risk of ovarian cancer.

Research shows that women who use talc have a 17 per cent higher risk of getting the cancer. Researchers say using a small amount of talc in the pelvic area may lead to it reaching the ovaries and increasing the risk of the most common gynaecological cancer in the UK, with more than 4,000 deaths a year.

In the research, published in the International Journal of Cancer this week, data on more than 3,000 women was compared. “We confirmed a statistically significant increase in ovarian cancer risk associated with use of talc in the pelvic region,” say the researchers, who are from hospitals and centres taking part in the Australian Ovarian Cancer Study Group.

The increased risk was specifically related to talc use in the pelvic region. Use on other body sites showed no association. “This suggests that use of only a small amount of talc may be required for some talc to reach the ovaries and increase risk of cancer,” says the report.

It’s not clear how talc could trigger the cancer. One theory is it may be carcinogenic to the covering layer of the ovaries when it get through the vagina, uterus and fallopian tubes to the ovary.


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