Sunday, September 23, 2018 | Updated at 9:23 PM ET


Study says baby powder causes ovarian cancer, but how true is this?

First Posted: Nov 08, 2016 12:47 PM EST
Baby powder

Photo : DESIREE MARTIN / Stringer

Talcum powder, popularly known as baby powder, is used for keeping skin dry and prevent diaper rashes for babies. Baby powder is mined from rock deposits like any other valuable mineral, but only the highest grade of talc can be used for consumption. Elements mainly needed for baby power include magnesium, silicon, and oxygen, but sometimes its natural form contains contains asbestos - a substance that can cause lung cancer when inhaled.

News Max has reported that some kinds of baby powder are asbestos-free, but researchers still keep on finding more evidence. According to American Cancer Society, talcum powder might cause ovarian cancer if the particles are applied to the genital area or in any sanitary napkins or condoms. But these studies are not still proven yet because the researchers have long relied on the case of one patient, whose cancer has been associated with using baby powder.

On the other hand, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization (WHO) classified talc as a substance "carcinogenic to humans" due to asbestos. However, talc is deemed "not classifiable as to carcinogenicity in humans" if it doesn't contain asbestos. Dr. Hal Lawrence, chief executive officer (CEO) of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said that several decades of medical research doesn't support the hypothesis that talcum powder can cause ovarian cancer.

According to American Cancer Society, any obstetrician-gynecologist isn't recommended to use talcum powder or vaginal sprays because of the potential of triggering discomfort or pain. Cancer researchers said that they can't find any definite evidence proving that talcum powder can cause ovarian cancer.

The only risk factor for ovarian cancer is on genetics - whether it runs in the patients' families or caused by a BRCA1 mutation. There might be a risk using talcum powder but only a small one nonetheless that's hard to measure, Dr. Steven Nord said.

Dr. Don Dizon stated that the best thing those who think that talcum powder can cause ovarian cancer should do is to stop its use when in doubt. 

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