Medical Experts Recommend Women Use Cornstarch Powder

American Cancer Society and Other Cancer Groups Say Non-Talc Powders

Are Safe to Use



Jul 07, 1999, 01:00 ET from American Cancer Society

    WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., July 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Cancer Society
 (ACS) and National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC), among others are
 recommending that women use cornstarch powders, rather than talcum powders, in
 the genital area.
     Media coverage of this topic in recent years has caused confusion among
 the millions of women who use powder in the feminine area.  "Some reports did
 not differentiate between talc and cornstarch powders, despite the fact that
 recently published studies found a weak association between talcum and ovarian
 cancer," says Dr. Stephen Pennisi, a board-certified toxicologist and vice
 president of product safety at Combe Incorporated, maker of Vagisil(R)
 Feminine Powder, which has been made with cornstarch since its introduction
 15 years ago.  "There has been no study that has shown any risk of ovarian
 cancer with the use of cornstarch-based powder," he explains.
     Consumers need to know that there are mainly two types of powders --
 cornstarch and talc, he adds.  Medical groups, such as the ACS, make a clear
 distinction between the two types of powders and offer recommendations to
 women on which ones are considered safe to use.  For example, "Talcum Powder
 and Cancer" from the ACS states: "Until additional information is available,
 women may wish to consider avoiding these products or substituting
 cornstarch-based powders that contain no talc."
     Joseph Imperato, M.D., president of the Illinois Division of the American
 Cancer Society, confirming this position, states: "The American Cancer Society
 currently recommends that women who wish to use powder use a cornstarch-based
 powder and avoid talc powders at this time."
     Other cancer and health organizations concur with the ACS support of
 cornstarch powder.  One such group is NOCC, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based national
 non-profit organization, which supports women with ovarian cancer through
 local chapters, an extensive web site and public education about the causes,
 symptoms, diagnosis and treatments of this often deadly cancer.  In its
 literature, NOCC states: "Until more research is conducted, it is prudent to
 avoid using talc powder in the genital region.  There are a number of
 cornstarch-based powders on the market, however, which offer women a safe
 alternative."
     Additionally, Louis Keith, M.D., a NOCC medical advisory board member and
 professor of obstetrics and gynecology, Northwestern University Medical
 School, says, "There has never been a shred of evidence suggesting that
 there's even a minute link between any product with cornstarch in it and
 ovarian cancer ... The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition has very simple
 advice for the 40 percent of American women who use some type of powder in the
 genital area.  That advice is to avoid any powder that contains talcum and to
 seek out those products that contain cornstarch."
     As further support for cornstarch, an extensive research paper, "Perineal
 Powder Containing Cornstarch," conducted by John Whysner, M.D., Toxicology and
 Risk Assessment Program at the American Health Foundation, confirms the safety
 of cornstarch.  "We did the most comprehensive study that's been done to date
 on this topic.  We reviewed the world's literature -- looked at over
 50 research papers, and although there were some associations found between
 the use of talc-containing genital powders and ovarian cancer, there were not
 these types of associations found for cornstarch-containing powders."
     Based on Dr. Whysner's expertise and the findings of this paper, he offers
 the following advice to women who wish to use feminine powder: "If a person is
 concerned about the risk of ovarian cancer from the use of talc-containing
 powders, I think that cornstarch-containing powder is a safe alternative."
     When asked why cornstarch is safer to use than talc, Dr. Whysner says,
 "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."
     Dr. Pennisi adds, "Since cornstarch is derived from corn and that's a
 food, our body has natural enzymes to break it down rather easily, whereas
 talc, which is a mineral and not normally found in the body, cannot be broken
 down by the body."
     The American Health Foundation paper, he adds, says essentially three
 things:
 
     -- Unlike talc, cornstarch feminine powders have never been associated
        with ovarian cancer.
     -- By the very nature of cornstarch, any association with ovarian cancer
        is not biologically plausible.
     -- Cornstarch is a safe alternative to talc in feminine powders.
 
     For more information about the safety of feminine powders, go to
 http://www.vagisil.com, http://www.ovarian.org, http://www.cancer.org.
 
 

SOURCE American Cancer Society
    WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., July 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Cancer Society
 (ACS) and National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC), among others are
 recommending that women use cornstarch powders, rather than talcum powders, in
 the genital area.
     Media coverage of this topic in recent years has caused confusion among
 the millions of women who use powder in the feminine area.  "Some reports did
 not differentiate between talc and cornstarch powders, despite the fact that
 recently published studies found a weak association between talcum and ovarian
 cancer," says Dr. Stephen Pennisi, a board-certified toxicologist and vice
 president of product safety at Combe Incorporated, maker of Vagisil(R)
 Feminine Powder, which has been made with cornstarch since its introduction
 15 years ago.  "There has been no study that has shown any risk of ovarian
 cancer with the use of cornstarch-based powder," he explains.
     Consumers need to know that there are mainly two types of powders --
 cornstarch and talc, he adds.  Medical groups, such as the ACS, make a clear
 distinction between the two types of powders and offer recommendations to
 women on which ones are considered safe to use.  For example, "Talcum Powder
 and Cancer" from the ACS states: "Until additional information is available,
 women may wish to consider avoiding these products or substituting
 cornstarch-based powders that contain no talc."
     Joseph Imperato, M.D., president of the Illinois Division of the American
 Cancer Society, confirming this position, states: "The American Cancer Society
 currently recommends that women who wish to use powder use a cornstarch-based
 powder and avoid talc powders at this time."
     Other cancer and health organizations concur with the ACS support of
 cornstarch powder.  One such group is NOCC, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based national
 non-profit organization, which supports women with ovarian cancer through
 local chapters, an extensive web site and public education about the causes,
 symptoms, diagnosis and treatments of this often deadly cancer.  In its
 literature, NOCC states: "Until more research is conducted, it is prudent to
 avoid using talc powder in the genital region.  There are a number of
 cornstarch-based powders on the market, however, which offer women a safe
 alternative."
     Additionally, Louis Keith, M.D., a NOCC medical advisory board member and
 professor of obstetrics and gynecology, Northwestern University Medical
 School, says, "There has never been a shred of evidence suggesting that
 there's even a minute link between any product with cornstarch in it and
 ovarian cancer ... The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition has very simple
 advice for the 40 percent of American women who use some type of powder in the
 genital area.  That advice is to avoid any powder that contains talcum and to
 seek out those products that contain cornstarch."
     As further support for cornstarch, an extensive research paper, "Perineal
 Powder Containing Cornstarch," conducted by John Whysner, M.D., Toxicology and
 Risk Assessment Program at the American Health Foundation, confirms the safety
 of cornstarch.  "We did the most comprehensive study that's been done to date
 on this topic.  We reviewed the world's literature -- looked at over
 50 research papers, and although there were some associations found between
 the use of talc-containing genital powders and ovarian cancer, there were not
 these types of associations found for cornstarch-containing powders."
     Based on Dr. Whysner's expertise and the findings of this paper, he offers
 the following advice to women who wish to use feminine powder: "If a person is
 concerned about the risk of ovarian cancer from the use of talc-containing
 powders, I think that cornstarch-containing powder is a safe alternative."
     When asked why cornstarch is safer to use than talc, Dr. Whysner says,
 "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."
     Dr. Pennisi adds, "Since cornstarch is derived from corn and that's a
 food, our body has natural enzymes to break it down rather easily, whereas
 talc, which is a mineral and not normally found in the body, cannot be broken
 down by the body."
     The American Health Foundation paper, he adds, says essentially three
 things:
 
     -- Unlike talc, cornstarch feminine powders have never been associated
        with ovarian cancer.
     -- By the very nature of cornstarch, any association with ovarian cancer
        is not biologically plausible.
     -- Cornstarch is a safe alternative to talc in feminine powders.
 
     For more information about the safety of feminine powders, go to
 http://www.vagisil.com, http://www.ovarian.org, http://www.cancer.org.
 
 SOURCE  American Cancer Society