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Genital Talc Use Positively Linked to Ovarian Cancer

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Frequent douching and douching during young adulthood also positively associated with ovarian cancer

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 21, 2024 (HealthDay News) — There is a positive association between use of intimate care products, including genital talc, and ovarian cancer, according to a study published online May 15 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Katie M. O’Brien, Ph.D., from the National Institutes of Health in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and colleagues examined the association between intimate care products and female hormone-related cancers using data from a U.S.-based cohort study enrolling 50,884 women who had a sister with breast cancer. Data on genital talc use and douching were obtained at enrollment in 2003 to 2009 and at follow-up in 2017 to 2019.

Overall, 41 to 64 percent of participants douched and 35 to 56 percent used genital talc across considered scenarios. The researchers found that genital talc use was positively associated with ovarian cancer in models adjusted for exposure misclassification (hazard ratio range, 1.17 to 3.34). Positive associations were seen for frequent douching and douching during young adulthood with ovarian cancer; neither douching nor talc was associated with breast or uterine cancer. Positive biases were likely produced by differential reporting of talc use by cases and noncases, but hazard ratios were above 1.0 even when correcting for error. For example, when 25 percent of exposed cases and 10 percent of unexposed noncases had talc status reassigned, the hazard ratio was 1.40.

“Our findings support the hypothesis that there is a positive association between genital talc use and ovarian cancer incidence, although they do not pinpoint a specific cause or mechanism,” the authors write.

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