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Talcum powder again linked to increase the risk of ovarian cancer

Talcum powder has long thought to be linked to increase the risk of ovarian cancer, but previous studies have never produced conclusive results.

Ovarian cancer is referred to as a silent killer, and accounts for five per cent of cancer deaths in women, and more than 6,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with it each year.

Talcum powder is still a widely used cosmetic product because it helps absorbs moisture and cuts down on friction, making it useful for keeping skin dry and helping to prevent rashes.

Talcum powder is produced from magnesium trisilicate, which in its natural form contains asbestos, a known carcinogen, but since 1973, talcum powders are required by law to be asbestos-free.

Previous studies have had mixed results linking the risk of ovarian cancer and the use of asbestos-free talcum powder on the external genital area, with one recent study suggesting that its use may slightly increase the risk of endometrial (uterine) cancer in women who are past menopause.

Now a new study published in the journal of Cancer Prevention Research, suggests that women who regularly use talcum powder are nearly a quarter more likely to suffer the risk of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston conducted a new research garnering data from eight different studies.

The study compared a group of 8,525 women who were diagnosed with cancer with 9,800 women who didn't have any history of cancer.

Their findings suggest that women who regularly use talcum powder can increase the risk of ovarian tumor by 24 percent.

The powder applied to the genital area can travel into a woman's body and trigger an inflammation in the lower genital tract, which can permit cancer cells to flourish elevating the risk of ovarian tumors.

Earlier studies have suggested that the risk of ovarian cancer is highest in one in ten Caucasian women who have a specific genetic code.

Those women who have the gene called glutathione S-transferase M1, or GSTM1, or the lack the gene called glutathione S-transferase T1 (GSTT1) are three times at risk of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Using talcum powder on other parts of the body is not thought to increase ovarian cancer risk and the results only apply to talcum powder used in the genital area and not on the rest of the body.

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