Talcum Powder IS linked to ovarian cancer - experts warn

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ovarian-cancer.jpgWomen who regularly powder their genitals with talc have a one-third higher risk of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, scientists have warned.

A new study asked 2,041 women with ovarian cancer - and 2,100 free of the disease - about their talcum powder use.

Those who routinely apply talc to their genitals, sanitary napkins, tampons and underwear were found to have a 33 per cent higher risk of ovarian cancer.

The study comes a week after a St. Louis jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $72 million in damages to the family of a woman who allegedly died of the disease after using their baby powder.

Lead study author Dr Daniel Cramer, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, told Reuters that there must be warning labels on talcum powder.

He said: 'This is an easily modified risk factor.

'Talc is a good drying agent, but women should know that if it's used repeatedly, it can get into the vagina and into their upper genital tract.

'And I think if they knew that, they wouldn't use it.'

Dr Cramer first linked genital talc to ovarian cancer in 1982.

However, the current study, published in the journal Epidemiology, is the first to limit the association to premenopausal women and postmenopausal women who used hormone therapy.

The new confines of the association may help explain earlier contradictory results on the link between talc and ovarian cancer, researchers said.

Dr Cramer has testified as a paid expert in lawsuits against talcum powder makers.

Talc is a mineral that absorbs moisture, and is made of magnesium, silicon and oxygen.

It may contain asbestos - a known carcinogen - in its natural form.

But, all commercial products in the US have been free of asbestos in the US since the 1970s.

Almost 20,000 women in the US are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year - and almost 14,500 die from the disease annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer classified genital talc as possibly carcinogenic in 2006.