Medicine is a difficult field of research. The main issue is that unlike most other sciences, you can’t just pay attention to your objective. Pretty much anything from weight to eating habits and even genetic predisposition can render an otherwise correct clinical study completely wrong.
The bigger problem is when such a mistake is made regarding a product that is widely used. In that case, it can lead to all sorts of issues, including death. Bringing the issue of talcum powder to light after years of being ignored, a new study shows that ovarian cancer may be influenced by genital talc.
Despite the fact that we’ve debating ever since the ‘60s whether talcum can cause harm because of its association with asbestos, it was only recently that the debate sparked up again. It all started with the death of a woman, as she died of ovarian cancer.
Everything began as a genital talc company was ordered by a judge to pay damages to a woman that developed ovarian cancer and died, allegedly because of the regular talc she applied to her genital area. Despite multiple studies coming up inconclusive, a new study was about to take place, attempting to establish a connection between talcum use and developing cancer.
Looking at the data of 2,041 women that at one point or another suffered from ovarian cancer, as well at the data of 2,100 healthy women similar in age, and other control factors, the team was about to get the study underway. For more clarifications, the healthy women were the control, while the sick ones were the study group.
Genital talc use was defined for the experiment as the regular application of talcum to the genital or rectal area, either directly or by using a proxy such as underwear or female hygiene products, like tampons or sanitary napkins.
Sadly, the results of this test were also inconclusive. Indeed, a connection was found between the regular use of talcum and developing ovarian cancer, and the risk increased with every year of regular use, but other factors such as weight, a smoking habit, hormonal treatments, and menopause also mattered.
Despite talcum being used since the early Arabic periods, and reaching Europe and America in the 19th century, it’s only since the ‘60s that concerns regarding its carcinogenity became a thing. They resulted from the sudden realization that talcum was being mined near asbestos ore, and that asbestos wasn’t really that good for you.
Image source: Flickr