It has been suggested that talcum powder might cause cancer in the ovaries if the powder particles (applied to the genital area or on sanitary napkins, diaphragms, or condoms) were to travel through the uterus, and fallopian tubes to the ovary.
Many studies in women have looked at the possible link between talcum powder and cancer of the ovary. Findings have been mixed, with some studies reporting a slightly increased risk and some reporting no increase.
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Many case-control studies have found a small increase in risk. But these types of studies can be biassed because they often rely on a person’s memory of talc use many years earlier.
Prospective cohort studies, which would not have the same type of potential bias, have generally not found a significant increase in ovarian cancer risk overall. However, some have suggested possible increased risks in certain groups of women (for example, in women who still have an intact reproductive tract) or in certain types of ovarian cancer.
One of the problems with studying this issue is that ovarian cancer isn’t common. Because of this, even the largest studies done so far might not have been big enough to detect a very small increase in risk, if it exists.
For any individual woman, if there is an increased risk, the overall increase is likely to very be small. Still, talc is widely used in many products, so it is important to determine if the increased risk is real. Research in this area continues.