Talc is a mineral made up of various elements including magnesium, silicon and oxygen. Talc is ground to make talcum powder which is used to absorb moisture and is widely available in various products including baby powder such as Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder. Talc products used regularly in the genital area have been linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer. This is because the particles that make up talcum powder are extremely fine. When directly applied to a woman’s genital area on a routine basis, the particles can travel into the vagina and uterus, through the fallopian tubes and settle in the ovaries. The ovaries may then become irritated by the presence of talcum powder particles, causing cancer cells to form, grow, and spread. Experts, called pathologists, who examine cancerous tissue describe finding talcum powder in cancerous ovarian tissue.
Lead author Dr. Daniel Cramer, who heads the Obstetrics and Gynecology Epidemiology Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, has unsuccessfully called for warning labels on talcum powder, which is used in Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. “This is an easily modified risk factor,” he told Reuters Health by phone. “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.” Having spent nearly three decades studying ovarian cancer risk with talcum powder, he recently testified at a trial that baby powder and body powder (such as Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower) could be a contributing factor in as many as 2,200 cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed each year.