A coalition of health experts, physicians, and consumer advocates is petitioning the Federal government to add warning labels on cosmetic talcum powder products. The group warns that frequent use of talcum powder on women’s’ genital regions is linked to the development of ovarian cancer, and wants the government to place warning labels on talc powder products informing women of the health risk. They also seek a public hearing to present evidence that talc can migrate to the ovaries when it is applied to the external genitalia. Ovarian cancer is a particularly deadly form of the disease, as it shows few symptoms during the early stages and is generally quite advanced before being diagnosed. More than 15,000 American women die each year from ovarian cancer, the fourth most common fatal cancer in women. Activists are concerned that ovarian cancer mortality rates are on the rise, particularly in older women, with a 13% increase since 1975 for white women and a 47% increase for black women.
Doctors suggest that women substitute cornstarch-based products for talc. The coalition seeking the government warnings note a metastudy of 16 talc studies that found a 33% increased risk of ovarian cancer associated with the application of talc to the perineal region, as well as a multinational study that found a 30 to 60 percent increase in ovarian cancer risk. Other research reports support the finding. Talc is the common name for a wide range of minerals, the majority of which are based on magnesium-silicon chemistry. Talc is generally soft and slippery. Talc is used commercially in the auto and appliance industries, because of its resistance to heat and corrosion. Some commercial talc products are known to be contaminated with asbestos, according to talc producers.