Is Douching a Risk Factor for Ovarian Cancer?

ovarian cancerA recent article published in Epidemiology entitled “Douching, Talc Use, and Risk of Ovarian Cancer” by Gonzalez, Nicole L. et al. showed that douching during the previous 12 months was associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer (HR: 1.8, CI: 1.2, 2.8).

The article observes both that: 1. numerous case-controlled studies had reported an increased risk of ovarian cancer; and 2. douching was reported to be associated with elevated levels of urinary metabolites of endocrine disrupting phthalates. Logically therefore, it was expected that the use of talc would be found as the trigger for the increased risk of ovarian cancer. However, the study found that there was “little association between baseline perineal talc use and subsequent ovarian cancer (HR: 0.73, CI: 0.44, 1.2).”

This unexpected result may be explained in several ways—i.e., that 12 months is insufficient to detect the latency period for talc-induced ovarian cancer, that all talc use was not uniform, and that follow-up was incomplete. Because the sample size was 50,884 women and 154 reported ovarian cancers, it is expected that more follow-up may lead to more accurate results.