Skip to main content
Log in

Use of talcum powder and endometrial cancer risk

  • Brief report
  • Published:
Cancer Causes & Control Aims and scope Submit manuscript



Use of talcum powder in the perineal area has been associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer, and a recent cohort study found a positive association with endometrial cancer. We sought to confirm this association using data from the Australian National Endometrial Cancer Study (ANECS).


ANECS was a population-based case–control study conducted from 2005 to 2007, in which 1,399 women with newly diagnosed histologically confirmed primary endometrial cancer and 740 control women provided risk factor information via telephone interview. Unconditional logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios adjusting for potential confounders.


We found no significant association between ever use of talc in the perineal area (OR 0.88, 95% CI: 0.68–1.14) or upper body area (OR 0.90, 95% CI: 0.71–1.14) and risk of endometrial cancer. The results were similar when stratified by subtype. Composite variables combining frequency and duration of talc use were also not significantly associated with risk (any perineal area use p = 0.07 and any upper body use p = 0.49).


The absence of any increase in risk and the similarity of our results for talc use on the upper body and in the perineal area do not support the hypothesis that use of talc in the perineal area is associated with an increased risk of endometrial cancer. Our data do not confirm the positive association between perineal talc use and endometrial cancer observed in the only previous study.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.


  1. GLOBOCAN 2008. Accessed May 2011

  2. Sorosky JI (2008) Endometrial cancer. Obstet Gynecol 111:436–447

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Felix AS, Weissfeld JL, Stone RA et al (2010) Factors associated with Type I and Type II endometrial cancer. Cancer Causes Control 21:1851–1856

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Wallace AE, Gibson DA, Saunders PT, Jabbour HN (2010) Inflammatory events in endometrial adenocarcinoma. J Endocrinol 206:141–157

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Linkov F, Edwards R, Balk J et al (2008) Endometrial hyperplasia, endometrial cancer and prevention: gaps in existing research of modifiable risk factors. Eur J Cancer 44:1632–1644

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Karageorgi S, Gates MA, Hankinson SE, De Vivo I (2010) Perineal use of talcum powder and endometrial cancer risk. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 19:1269–1275

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Whittemore AS, Wu ML, Paffenbarger RS Jr et al (1988) Personal and environmental characteristics related to epithelial ovarian cancer. II. Exposures to talcum powder, tobacco, alcohol, and coffee. Am J Epidemiol 128:1228–1240

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Merritt MA, Green AC, Nagle CM, Webb PM (2008) Talcum powder, chronic pelvic inflammation and NSAIDs in relation to risk of epithelial ovarian cancer. Int J Cancer 122:170–176

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Langseth H, Hankinson SE, Siemiatycki J, Weiderpass E (2008) Perineal use of talc and risk of ovarian cancer. J Epidemiol Community Health 62:358–360

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Mills PK, Riordan DG, Cress RD, Young HA (2004) Perineal talc exposure and epithelial ovarian cancer risk in the Central Valley of California. Int J Cancer 112:458–464

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Huncharek M, Geschwind JF, Kupelnick B (2003) Perineal application of cosmetic talc and risk of invasive epithelial ovarian cancer: a meta-analysis of 11, 933 subjects from sixteen observational studies. Anticancer Res 23:1955–1960

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Cramer DW, Liberman RF, Titus-Ernstoff L et al (1999) Genital talc exposure and risk of ovarian cancer. Int J Cancer 81:351–356

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Cook LS, Kamb ML, Weiss NS (1997) Perineal powder exposure and the risk of ovarian cancer. Am J Epidemiol 145:459–465

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Chang S, Risch HA (1997) Perineal talc exposure and risk of ovarian carcinoma. Cancer 79:2396–2401

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Harlow BL, Cramer DW, Bell DA, Welch WR (1992) Perineal exposure to talc and ovarian cancer risk. Obstet Gynecol 80:19–26

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Purdie D, Green A, Bain C et al (1995) Reproductive and other factors and risk of epithelial ovarian cancer: an Australian case-control study. Survey of Women’s Health Study Group. Int J Cancer 62:678–684

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. International Agency for Research on Cancer (2006) IARC monographs on the evaluation of carcinogenic risks to humans. Carbon black, titantium dioxide and non-asbestiform talc. WHO, Geneva

    Google Scholar 

  18. Baan R, Straif K, Grosse Y et al (2006) Carcinogenicity of carbon black, titanium dioxide, and talc. Lancet Oncol 7:295–296

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Modugno F, Ness RB, Chen C, Weiss NS (2005) Inflammation and endometrial cancer: a hypothesis. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 14:2840–2847

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Silverberg S, Kurman RJ, Nogales F et al (2003) Tumours of the uterine corpus. In: Tavassoli F, Devilee P (ed) World Health Organization Classification of Tumours. Pathology and genetics of tumours of the breast and female genital organs. IARC Press, Lyon, France

Download references


The Australian National Endometrial Cancer Study was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia (#339435) and Cancer Council Tasmania (#403031 and 457636). C. M. Nagle, P. M. Webb, and A. B. Spurdle are funded by Fellowships from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. AS Neill is funded by a Cancer Council Queensland scholarship. These organisations had no further involvement with the study. We gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of the following institutions: NSW: John Hunter Hospital, Liverpool Hospital, Mater Misericordiae Hospital (Sydney), Mater Misericordiae Hospital (Newcastle), Newcastle Private Hospital, North Shore Private Hospital, Royal Hospital for Women, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Royal North Shore Hospital, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, St George Hospital; Westmead Hospital, Westmead Private Hospital; QLD: Brisbane Private Hospital, Greenslopes Hospital, Mater Misericordiae Hospitals, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Wesley Hospital, Queensland Cancer Registry; SA: Adelaide Pathology Partners, Burnside Hospital, Calvary Hospital, Flinders Medical Centre, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Royal Adelaide Hospital, South Australian Cancer Registry; Tas: Launceston Hospital, North West Regional Hospitals, Royal Hobart Hospital; Vic: Freemasons Hospital, Melbourne Pathology Services, Mercy Hospital for Women, Royal Women’s Hospital, Victorian Cancer Registry; WA: King Edward Memorial Hospital, St John of God Hospitals Subiaco and Murdoch, Western Australian Cancer Registry.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest that could be perceived as prejudicing the impartiality of the research reported.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Annette S. Neill.

Additional information

This study is conducted for the Australian National Endometrial Cancer Study Group.

Please refer “Appendix” section for ANECS Group members.



The ANECS Group comprises: A. B. Spurdle, P. Webb, J. Young (Queensland Institute of Medical Research); Consumer representative: L. McQuire; Clinical Collaborators: NSW: S. Baron-Hay, D. Bell, A. Bonaventura, A. Brand, S. Braye, J. Carter, F. Chan, C. Dalrymple, A. Ferrier (deceased), G. Gard, N. Hacker, R. Hogg, R. Houghton, D. Marsden, K. McIlroy, G. Otton, S. Pather, A. Proietto, G. Robertson, J. Scurry, R. Sharma, G. Wain, F. Wong; Qld: J. Armes, A. Crandon, M. Cummings, R. Land, J. Nicklin, L. Perrin, A. Obermair, B. Ward; SA: M. Davy, T. Dodd, J. Miller, M. Oehler, S. Paramasivum, J. Pierides, F. Whitehead; Tas: P. Blomfield, D. Challis; Vic: D. Neesham, J. Pyman, M. Quinn, R. Rome, M. Weitzer; WA: B. Brennan, I. Hammond, Y. Leung, A. McCartney, C. Stewart, J. Thompson; Project Managers: S. O’Brien, S. Moore; Laboratory Manager: K. Ferguson; Pathology Support: M. Walsh; Admin Support: R. Cicero, L. Green, J. Griffith, L Jackman, B. Ranieri; Laboratory Assistants: M. O’Brien, P. Schultz; Research Nurses: B. Alexander, C. Baxter, H. Croy, A. Fitzgerald, E. Herron, C. Hill, M. Jones, J. Maidens, A. Marshall, K. Martin, J. Mayhew, E. Minehan, D. Roffe, H. Shirley, H. Steane, A. Stenlake, A. Ward, S. Webb, J. White.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Neill, A.S., Nagle, C.M., Spurdle, A.B. et al. Use of talcum powder and endometrial cancer risk. Cancer Causes Control 23, 513–519 (2012).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: