March 9, 2017
Doctors at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital have found a small yet statistically significant link between women’s use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer, according to Newsday.
Head researcher Dr. Paolo Bofetta found a twenty percent higher risk of ovarian cancer for women who have used talcum powder versus those who haven’t.
Although the study shows a link, it’s not as simple as, for example, the clear cause-effect link between cigarettes and lung cancer. Most ovarian cancer cases are “sporadic,” meaning without a definable cause.
Many factors make it difficult for doctors to diagnose ovarian cancer early:
- Symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and can be mistaken as lesser conditions
- The disease lacks powerful advocacy efforts, missing out on the amounts of research dollars other diseases attract (e.g. breast cancer awareness)
- There is no general screening method for ovarian cancer
Once ovarian cancer has been diagnosed, it can be difficult to tie the disease directly to talcum powder use. Bofetta’s study had to rely on patients’ memories for the duration and frequency of their talcum powder exposure. Patients’ memories can result in imprecise data for any study.
Still, there have been several talcum powder lawsuits against manufacturers like Johnson & Johnson. At least three cases have resulted in large jury awards.