Some women apply talcum powder either directly to the vulva or indirectly through application to menstrual pads, diaphragms, or condoms for odor control. It has been suggested that application of talcum powder to the genital area may be associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer (30). Several epidemiological studies have been conducted in an attempt to verify this association and some suggest a slight increase in the risk of ovarian cancer with talcum powder use. However, other studies show no association at all. A confounding factor in many of these studies is that, prior to 1973, low levels of asbestos were sometimes present in talcum powders. All powder products marketed after 1973 have been required by law to be free of asbestos.
Although the association between talcum powder and ovarian cancer is still unresolved, modern products marketed specifically for feminine hygiene use have replaced talcum powder with cornstarch.
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