Association between Body Powder Use and Ovarian Cancer: The African American Cancer Epidemiology Study (AACES)

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2016 Oct;25(10):1411-1417. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-15-1281. Epub 2016 May 12.


Background: Epidemiologic studies indicate increased ovarian cancer risk among women who use genital powder, but this has not been thoroughly investigated in African American (AA) women, a group with a high prevalence of use. We evaluate the relationship between use of genital powder and nongenital powder in invasive epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC).

Methods: Subjects are 584 cases and 745 controls enrolled in the African American Cancer Epidemiology Study (AACES), an ongoing, population-based case-control study of EOC in AA women in 11 geographic locations in the United States. AA controls were frequency matched to cases on residence and age. Logistic regression was used to calculate ORs and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for associations between genital and nongenital powder exposure and EOC risk, controlling for potential confounders.

Results: Powder use was common (62.8% of cases and 52.9% of controls). Genital powder was associated with an increased risk of EOC (OR = 1.44; 95% CI, 1.11-1.86) and a dose-response relationship was found for duration of use and number of lifetime applications (P < 0.05). Nongenital use was also associated with EOC risk, particularly among nonserous EOC cases (OR = 2.28; 95% CI, 1.39-3.74). An association between powder use and upper respiratory conditions suggests an enhanced inflammatory response may explain the association between body powder and EOC.

Conclusions: In a study of AA women, body powder use was significantly associated with EOC risk.

Impact: The results support that body powder is a modifiable risk factor for EOC among AA women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 25(10); 1411-7. ©2016 AACRSee related commentary by Trabert, p. 1369.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Black or African American
  • Carcinoma, Ovarian Epithelial
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / chemically induced*
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / epidemiology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Powders / adverse effects*
  • Young Adult


  • Powders