Women should avoid using talcum powder on their genitals due to it posing an increased risk of ovarian cancer, a UK charity has warned after a pharmaceutical giant faced legal action in the United States.
Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $4.7 billion (£3.6 billion) to a group of 22 women who allege the company’s talcum powders caused their ovarian cancer.
Target Ovarian Cancer said it was important to note that the increased risk was “very small”.
Rebecca Rennison, director of public affairs and services, said: “Various studies have shown a link between using talcum powder between the legs and ovarian cancer.
“We would therefore generally advise against using talcum powder on this area of the body.
“However it is important to note that the increased risk is very small.
“For someone without a family history of ovarian cancer the lifetime risk of developing the disease is 2%.
“Or, put another way, four women out of 200. For those that used talcum powder it could be five in 200.”
Ovacome, which provides advice and support to women with ovarian cancer, said the link remained unproven as there were “uncertainties” around the results of studies.
The charity said further research was needed.
Around 7,300 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the UK each year, with half (53%) of cases diagnosed in women aged 65 and over.
The affected women claim that Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products have been laced with cancer-causing asbestos “for decades”.
Johnson & Johnson has denied that its products contain asbestos and said it “remains confident” that they do not cause ovarian cancer.
The company plans to appeal over the verdict.