Talcum Powder and Cervical Cancer

Whether or not talcum powder can cause or contribute to the development of cervical cancer is not known. However, some studies have suggested that the regular and repeated genital application of talc-based powders may contribute to the development of ovarian cancer.

Is Talcum Powder A Carcinogen?

Talc, the main ingredient in talc-based powders like Shower-to-Shower and Johnson’s Baby Powder, is a naturally-occurring substance that is made up of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. In its natural form, some talc contains asbestos, which is a known carcinogen. However, talc-based powders for consumer use in the U.S. have been asbestos-free since the 1970s.

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies talc that contains asbestos as “carcinogenic to humans.” Based on some evidence from human studies of a link to ovarian cancer, IARC classifies the perineal (genital) use of talc-based body powder as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer

Hundreds of talcum powder lawsuits currently pending in U.S. courts assert that the regular, repeated use of talc-based powders for feminine hygiene purposes can contribute to the development of ovarian cancer. According to these lawsuits, talc particles can enter the vagina when the powder is applied to the genital area. Eventually, these particles can make their way past the cervix and into the uterus and ovaries. Over time, the talc can accumulate and cause the type of inflammation that can promote the growth of cancer cells. Read More

Since the 1970s, at least 20 studies have suggested that long-term use of talc for feminine hygiene purposes increased the risk of ovarian cancer by about 33%. While the overall odds of a woman developing the disease is about 1 in 70, these epidemiological studies indicate that the odds rise to 1 in 53 among women who regularly and repeatedly apply talc-based powders  to their genitals.

What is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer develops in the cells lining the cervix, which connects the body of the uterus to the vagina. The cells that make up the cervix are squamous cells (on the exocervix) and glandular cells (on the endocervix). Both of these cells meet at the transformation zone, the location of which changes as a woman ages and if she gives birth. The transformation zone is where most cervical cancers originate.

Around 9 out of 10 cervical cancers are squamous cell cancers, while most of the remaining adenocarcinomas that originate in the glandular cells. Adenosquamous carcinomas involve both types of cells, bur are far less common.

Symptoms associated with cervical cancer include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as bleeding after vaginal intercourse,
  • Bleeding after menopause, bleeding and spotting between periods
  • Menstrual periods that are longer or heavier than usual
  • Bleeding after douching or after a pelvic exam may also occur.
  • An unusual discharge from the vagina that may contain some blood, either between periods or after menopause.
  • Pain during intercourse.

Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the most important risk factor for cervical cancer. Other risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Immunosuppression
  • Chlamydia infection
  • Diet low in fruits and vegetables
  • Being overweight
  • Long-term use of birth control pills
  • Multiple full-term pregnancies
  • Being younger than 17 at time of first full-term pregnancy
  • Diethylstilbestrol (DES)
  • Family history of cervical cancer

Talcum Powder Lawsuit Reviews

Bernstein Liebhard LLP is offering free legal reviews to women who may have been harmed as a result of long-term, genital talcum powder use. To learn more, please call (888) 994-5118.

Last Modified: June 30, 2016

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