In 1982, the journal Cancer published a study showing that women who used talcum powder on sanitary napkins were three times as likely to develop ovarian cancer compared to those who did not.
The journal Obstetrics & Gynecology published a study in 1992 showing that talcum powder was associated with a three-fold increased risk of ovarian cancer. More studies investigated this issue following this publication. In one sample study, researchers found that talc could reach the fallopian tubes in as little as 30 minutes.
A 33 percent risk of ovarian cancer was identified in a 2003 meta-analysis published in the journal Anticancer Research. The analysis involved 16 studies and a total of 11,933 women.
The cosmetic industry has even recognized the dangers of talc. In 2002, Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association president Edward Kavanaugh acknowledged that talc is harmful and “can reach the human ovaries.” Still, no warning has been issued to the public.
Women who used talcum powder were 20 to 30 percent more likely to develop ovarian cancer compared to those who did not, according a June 2013 study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research. Data from 2,000 women who used talc for feminine hygiene was also analyzed in the study. The researchers found that “Genital powder use was associated with a modest increased risk of epithelial ovarian cancer (odds ratio 1.24, 95% confidence interval 1.15-1.33) relative to women who never used powder. Risk was elevated for invasive serous (1.20, 1.09-1.32), endometrioid (1.22, 1.04-1.43), and clear cell (1.24, 1.01-1.52) tumors, and for borderline serous tumors (1.46, 1.24-1.72). Among genital powder users, we observed no significant trend (p=0.17) in risk with increasing number of lifetime applications (assessed in quartiles). We noted no increase in risk among women who only reported non-genital powder use. In summary, genital powder use is a modifiable exposure associated with small-to-moderate increases in risk of most histologic subtypes of epithelial ovarian cancer.”