Why are Women at Risk for Developing Cancer After Using Talc Products?

Women are at a heightened risk for developing ovarian cancer after using talc products for personal hygiene because of both the substance and the way it has been marketed and used. Talc is a naturally occurring mineral that manufacturers use in baby powder, adult cosmetics, cleaning supplies, and more.

Many of these products are marketed to women. Marketing slogans have actively pushed talc’s use to control sweating, moisture, and odor in adult women’s bodies, saying “you sweat in more places than just your underarms.”

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Talcum Powder Cancer Lawsuit Center

One reason talc use may lead to cancer of the ovaries is it was marketed and used in women’s genital areas. Talcum powder can eliminate dampness and lessen friction, so women have used it directly on their skin, underwear, and genital areas to reduce moisture, chafing, and odors. According to the American Cancer Society, it’s been suggested that using the powder near the vagina permits it to enter the body and travel to the ovaries.

Another reason talc may lead to cancer is that it has been contaminated with asbestos—a known carcinogen—at least some of the time. Talc frequently occurs in nature with asbestos. Starting in the 1970s, research started finding a link between talc and asbestos. In the 1971 medical paper “Talc and Carcinoma of the Ovary and Cervix,” researchers reported finding talc remnants deep within malignant tumors. As early as 1994 cancer patients’ rights organizations explicitly lodged complaints about cancer and talc particle connection. Mining companies have listed cancer warnings on talc safety data sheets since 2006.