Experts such as those featured in a recent Cosmopolitan article are advising women that talc is an easily avoidable exposure associated with a serious cancer, with no real health benefits and safe alternatives, such as corn starch powders already on the market. Why take the risk when ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths among women, it has subtle, easily missed symptoms and no adequate screening?
Dr. Roberta Ness, a recognized expert in women’s health research and former Dean of The University of Texas School of Public Health, advocates, “It is time for doctors and women to realize that more than 40 years of scientific research doesn’t lie: there is a link between genital talc use and ovarian cancer. This cause is 100 percent preventable.”
Juries who have seen the scientific evidence have done their best to warn women who may still be using talc with attention-getting verdicts and to convince Johnson and Johnson to change its behavior with huge punitive damages. The verdicts have totaled $724 million in favor of women who have developed ovarian cancer after years of using talcum-powder products such as Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower.
Although Johnson and Johnson still continues to refuse to warn women of the dangers of genital talc use, other manufacturers of talc products are putting warnings on their labels and the message is getting out through the media, health care professionals and other advocates for women’s reproductive health issues who are concerned about this issue.
Dr. Ness recently provided a list of tips for women to help them prevent developing ovarian cancer as a result of talc use, beginning with checking labels. Since not all labels have an ovarian cancer warning, it’s important to check labels for ingredients and purchase cornstarch body powders, rather than ones that contain talc.
Second, she warns that women need to be aware that talc powders should never be used for feminine hygiene, despite advertising they might have seen leading them to believe this was an appropriate use of the product. Dr. Ness informs readers that pap smears do not check for ovarian cancer, but a gynecologist can help watch for warning signs or perform the appropriate tests for ovarian cancer. If you’ve used talc for feminine hygiene, you should discuss your genital talc exposure with them so they know to be watching.
Lastly, she encourages women to learn more about ovarian cancer (and share what they learn with others), especially during the month of September, which is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Learning the symptoms of ovarian cancer such as bloating, pelvic pain, and feeling full quickly when eating, can greatly increase chances of survival as this disease often goes undetected until it has gone into the later stages that are hard to treat.
According to OvarianCancerAwareness.org other symptoms can include urinary urgency or frequency; nausea, indigestion, gas, constipation or diarrhea; extreme fatigue; shortness of breath; backaches; and weight gain. If symptoms last more than two to three weeks consult your doctor. Dr. Ness recommends the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition for support for those who have already been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.