Study Finds No Association Between Cornstarch Perineal Powders and Ovarian Cancer

May 17, 2000

New York (MedscapeWire) May 17 — A study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology states that, "Due to the nature of cornstarch, it would not be expected that there would be any association between perineal cornstarch use and ovarian cancer, and there is no evidence of any association."

The paper represents the most comprehensive review ever of research on feminine powders, which almost 40% of women use. The findings of John Whysner, MD, PhD, and Melissa Mohan of the Toxicology and Risk Assessment Program of the American Health Foundation (AHF) are released on the heels of the Harvard University Nurses' Health Study results, published in a recent issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. That landmark study found only a modest increase in risk of ovarian cancer from talc use in the most common and most lethal form of the disease. Gail Hayward, founder and president of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC), says that publication of the AHF study should "put to rest any possible concerns about the safety of cornstarch powder use for women."

Dr. Whysner states in the paper that, "Cornstarch is an alternative to talc for perineal powders." In addition, he has stated, "Cornstarch is the way that the corn plant stores energy. It's also the starch that is used in food products, and the body can digest cornstarch. Talc, on the other hand, is a mineral. It's mined from the earth, and the body has a difficult time removing it."

This comprehensive review of studies investigating the relationship between cornstarch-containing perineal powder and possible health effects found that there was none.

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