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Sat 06 July 2024:

The cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday (Jul 5) classified talc as “probably carcinogenic” for humans. This comes a few weeks after a research claimed that it established a link between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer. 

In the latest development, WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said that based on “limited evidence” talc could cause ovarian cancer in humans, while there are “sufficient evidence” it is linked to cancer in rats and “strong mechanistic evidence” that it shows carcinogenic signs in human cells. 
The cancer agency admitted that there were numerous studies which consistently showed an increase in the rate of ovarian cancer in women who use talc on their genitals, however, it further added that it previously could not rule out that the talc in some studies was contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos. 
“A causal role for talc could not be fully established,” according to the agency’s findings published in The Lancet Oncology. 

IARC said that most people are exposed to talc in the form of baby powder or cosmetics. The most significant exposure to talc occurs when talc is being mined, processed or used to make products. 

Talc is a naturally occurring mineral that is mined across the world and frequently used to manufacture talcum baby powder.

As quoted by the news agency AFP, Kevin McConway, who is a statistician at the UK’s Open University not involved in the research, warned that for the IARC’s evaluation, the “most obvious interpretation is actually misleading”. 

He said that the agency is only aiming “to answer the question of whether the substance has the potential to cause cancer, under some conditions that IARC do not specify,” he said. 

McConway added that because the studies were observational it could not prove causation. “There isn’t a smoking gun that the talc use causes any increased cancer risk,” he said. 

Link between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer 

A recently published research in the Journal of Clinical Oncology on May 15, found that usage of talcum powder on the genitals was linked to ovarian cancer, which begins in the female organs that produce eggs (ovaries). 

The risk is higher for those who frequently use the powder for long periods of time.

Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has progressed to the pelvis and stomach. At this stage, ovarian cancer is more difficult to treat and may be fatal. 

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health examined the association between intimate care products and female hormone-related cancers.









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