Powder Puff Cancer Risks

Uterine cancer risks are not increased with perineal powder use

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Using talc or other forms of powder to freshen up the genital area is something women have done for years. This practice has been linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer in several studies. But what about powder and uterine cancer risks?

A recent study showed that using powder around the pubic area (perineum) is not associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer.

There may be some risk, however, in using powder on a diaphragm (birth control device that covers the cervix).

"It's best not to use powder near your genitals."

Scientists led by biostatistics researcher, Sybil L. Crawford, PhD, examined the association between perineal powder use and the risk of endometrial cancer, which is diagnosed in about 59,000 American women each year. 

Researchers looked at information relating to some 48,500 women gathered from the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study Research Materials.

Of the women in the study, more than half (52 percent) reported ever having used powder in the pubic region.

During follow-up, which amounted to 364,134 person-years, 447 of the women were diagnosed with uterine cancer. For this group, that means 0.009 (447/48,500) women were diagnosed with the disease.

After analyzing the numbers, researchers concluded that using powder around the genitals was not related to an increased risk of uterine cancer, nor was the use of powder on sanitary napkins.

However, researchers did find a three-fold increased risk of uterine cancer among women who had used powder on a diaphragm for 20 or more years compared with women who had never used perineal powder.

The authors wrote, "Any duration of external use of perineal powder was not associated with increased risk of endometrial cancer; however, long-term use of powder on a diaphragm may increase the risk of endometrial cancer."

This research was published August 9 in the journal Cancer Causes & Control.

No financial information was available.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 10, 2012
Last Updated:
May 28, 2013