There’s been a longstanding debate — and a slew of lawsuits — over whether baby powder containing talc plays any role in the development of some cancers.
A large new study isn’t likely to settle the controversy any time soon.
The latest research included more than 250,000 women and failed to find a statistically significant connection between talc-based powders and ovarian cancer.
But study author Katie O’Brien, an epidemiologist with the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said the findings are “not definitive.”
“We found a small, but nonstatistically significant, risk. We cannot establish causality. If there is a true association [between talc powder use and ovarian cancer], the increase would likely be very small,” she explained.
Talc is a mineral that is sometimes found naturally in areas that also contain asbestos. Asbestos is a known cancer-causing substance. But U.S. manufacturers of cosmetic talc products agreed to ban asbestos in 1976, according to the study. Since that time, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has said there is only “possible” evidence that genital use of talc-based body powder may be linked to cancer.