Ovarian cancer and talc: a case-control study

Cancer. 1982 Jul 15;50(2):372-6. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(19820715)50:2<372::aid-cncr2820500235>3.0.co;2-s.


Opportunities for genital exposure to talc were assessed in 215 white females with epithelial ovarian cancers and in 215 control women from the general population matched by age, race, and residence. Ninety-two (42.8%) cases regularly used talc either as a dusting powder on the perineum or on sanitary napkins compared with 61 (28.4%) controls. Adjusted for parity and menopausal status, this difference yielded a relative risk of 1.92 (P less than 0.003) for ovarian cancer associated with these practices. Women who had regularly engaged in both practices had an adjusted relative risk of 3.28 (P less than 0.001) compared to women with neither exposure. This provides some support for an association between talc and ovarian cancer hypothesized because of the similarity of ovarian cancer to mesotheliomas and the chemical relation of talc to asbestos, a known cause of mesotheliomas. The authors also investigated opportunities for potential talc exposure from rubber products such as condoms or diaphragms or from pelvic surgery. No significant differences were noted between cases and controls in these exposures, although the intensity of talc exposure from these sources was likely affected by variables not assessed in this study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Boston
  • Contraceptive Devices / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menopause
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Parity
  • Pelvis / surgery
  • Risk
  • Talc / adverse effects*


  • Talc