If you are a regular user of feminine hygiene products containing talcum powder, you should consider discontinuing its use immediately. In several recent scientific studies, there has been a link made between the regular use of talcum powder based products and increased rates of ovarian cancer in Black women. Studies are also showing that Black women who use powder products, have a higher incidence of ovarian cancer, compared to their peers who did not use talcum products. Women who use talcum powder regularly, show far higher cancer rates, no matter where they used the powder. When powder was used in the genital area, there was more than a 40% increase in cancer risk. Even when non-genital powder was used, the increased cancer risk was more than 30%.
One of the lead study investigators, Joellen Schildkraut, said “African-American women have been targeted for use of body powder, and they use it more commonly. I’ve concluded – why use it?” Ms. Schildkraut is an epidemiologist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. She was initially skeptical about the link between talc and ovarian cancer but after her own research, she immediately started urging women to discontinue its use. The study looked 584 Black women with ovarian cancer and 745 Black women without the disease from around the U.S. Approximately 63% of the women with ovarian cancer had used a talc based powder. But 53% of the women who showed no signs of the disease also reported using a talc powder, the researchers reported in Cancer Epidemiology. A noted epidemiologist pointed out that Black women are underrepresented in many epidemiological studies. Some studies have shown a 33% higher risk of ovarian cancer in women who reported using talc in their crotches, sanitary napkins, tampons and underwear.
The Johnson & Johnson company, one of the world’s largest powder makers, had a detailed plan in the 1990’s to raise their lagging sales of its powder “by targeting” Black and Hispanic women. The information was contained in a company memo, which was made public in several lawsuits against the powder maker. The first lawsuit to be settled, was that of Jackie Fox of Missouri, who died in the fall of 2015 from ovarian cancer at the age of 62. Before her death, Ms. Fox had filed her lawsuit against J&J, claiming she was a regular user of their Baby Powder and Shower to Shower powder. Because of Jackie Fox’s untimely death, the courts allowed her son, Marvin Salter, to continue with the case on his mother’s behalf. A jury in February 2016, awarded Ms. Fox’s estate a $72 million judgment. There is still another 1,200 pending civil lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson.
Dr. Daniel W. Cramer of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Epidemiology Center at Brigham, AL, raised a red flag about the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer since back in 1982; and was asking for warning labels to be placed on the products since back then. Another expert, Dr. Steven Narod said, “In the interests of public health, I believe we should caution women against using genital talcum powder.” The reason these dire warnings should be heeded is because, approximately 20,000 American women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year and about 14,500 die from the dreaded disease.