Perineal powder use and risk of ovarian cancer

Serena C. Houghton, Katherine W. Reeves, Susan E. Hankinson, Lori Crawford, Dorothy Lane, Jean Wactawski-Wende, Cynthia A. Thomson, Judith K. Ockene, Susan R. Sturgeon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Background: Case-control studies have reported an increased risk of ovarian cancer among talc users; however, the only cohort study to date found no association except for an increase in serous invasive ovarian cancers. The purpose of this analysis was to assess perineal powder use and risk of ovarian cancer prospectively in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study cohort.

Methods: Perineal powder use was assessed at baseline by self-report regarding application to genitals, sanitary napkins, or diaphragms and duration of use. The primary outcome was self-reported ovarian cancer centrally adjudicated by physicians. Cox proportional hazard regression was used to estimate risk, adjusting for covariates, including person-time until diagnosis of ovarian cancer (n = 429), death, loss to follow-up, or September 1 7, 2012. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: Among 61 576 postmenopausal women, followed for a mean of 12.4 years without a history of cancer or bilateral oophorectomy, 52.6% reported ever using perineal powder. Ever use of perineal powder (hazard ratio [HR]adj = 1.06, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.87 to 1.28) was not associated with risk of ovarian cancer compared with never use. Individually, ever use of powder on the genitals (HRadj = 1.12, 95% CI = 0.92 to 1.36), sanitary napkins (HRadj = 0.95, 95% CI = 0.76 to 1.20), or diaphragms (HRadj = 0.92, 95% CI = 0.68 to 1.23) was not associated with risk of ovarian cancer compared with never use, nor were there associations with increasing durations of use. Estimates did not differ when stratified by age or tubal ligation status.

Conclusion: Based on our results, perineal powder use does not appear to influence ovarian cancer risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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