A new study published on September 22, 2020, in Gynecologic Oncology further reinforces the association between the talc in baby powder and ovarian cancer.

In the study, Kurt E. Johnson, Anastas Popratiloff, Yuwei Fan, Sandra McDonald, and John J. Godleski measured the physical attributes, including size and shape, of the talc particles that make up baby talcum powder. They then compared the data they gathered with the size and shape of talc particles in tissues that had been surgically removed from patients with ovarian cancer.

About the Research

The researchers used polarized light microscopy (PLM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to measure the particles of talc in samples of talc-containing baby powder (TCBP) as well as the talc particles in the pelvic tissues taken during hysterectomies of ovarian cancer patients who had reported talc exposure.

According to the study, particles that most frequently appeared in the TCBP samples were “unequivocally identified as talc.” Within the resected tissues taken from ovarian cancer patients, the talc particles were similar in size and shape to the most frequent class of TCBP sample particles.

Specifically, the study highlights these findings:

  • TCBP Particles: 77.7 percent had an aspect ratio of 1-3.9 and an area of 1-400 μm2
  • Pelvic Tissues Talc Particles: 83.5 percent had an aspect ratio of 1-3.9 and an area of 1-400 μm2

The researchers denoted these similarities to be “statistically significant.”

What it Means for the Talc-Cancer Connection

According to the study’s authors, their findings, when considered with previous epidemiological literature and studies that analyzed tissues, deepens the evidence supporting that TCBP talc particles can migrate from the area between the anus and the vulva in females (the perineum) and find themselves lodged in structures within the female reproductive tract. Here, these particles can contribute to an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Sara Stephens is a freelance writer who has developed a hefty portfolio of work across several industries, with a strong emphasis on law, technology, and marketing. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, as well as various technology and consumer publications, both print and online. Sara also works as a freelance book editor, having developed and edited manuscripts for bestselling and novice authors alike, and as a verbal strategist for a Miami branding consultancy.