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Researcher Asks ‘Why Use Talcum Powder’ After Study Shows Black Women Have Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer From it



A new study on the heels of last month’s report on Johnson & Johnson’s cancer-causing talcum powder lawsuit shows there is a link between use of the product and ovarian cancer. Compared to women who do not use the product, African-American women who apply powder are more likely to get the illness.

The study, primarily conducted by epidemiologist Joellen Schildkraut at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, was reported by Reuters Health. It found regular users of genital powder had more than a 40 percent risk of cancer, but those who used non-genital powder had over 30 percent risk.

“I was a cynic until these recent studies came out. As you look across all these studies, I would say, why use it? It’s an avoidable risk for ovarian cancer,” Schildkraut told the website.

The epidemiologist’s team spoke to 584 ovarian cancer-stricken Black women and 745 Black women who did not have cancer. In the Cancer Epidemiology report, almost 63 percent of the unhealthy women dusted the powder on themselves. Almost 53 percent of the healthy women did the same.

Schildkraut acknowledges baby powder sellers target Black women who use talcum powder “more commonly.”

A 2015 Los Angeles case-control study confirms this. It found 44 percent of Black women said they used talcum powder versus 30 percent of white women.

Because of African-American women’s increased use of the product, Schildkraut thinks her large group study of makes the findings more compelling.

Dr. Nicolas Wentzensen, who heads clinical epidemiology for the National Cancer Institute, says African-American women are typically underrepresented in epidemiological studies. He tells Reuturs Schildkraut’s study was well conducted, but believes recall bias and public lawsuits could be to blame for the study’s results.

Schildkraut denies that saying women can accurately remember their talcum powder usage.

Atlanta Black Star reports New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson knew about the link between the substance and ovarian cancer and marketed it to Black women when white women stopped buying. The company has been the subject of many lawsuits as a result. In the latest ruling May 2, the company lost the suit over the death of Black ovarian cancer victim Gloria Ristesund. The jury awarded $5 million in damages and $50 million in punitive damages in the settlement. Johnson & Johnson seeks to appeal the ruling.

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