Ovarian cancer is one of the most common cancers among women. According to the American Cancer Society, an average woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer is 1 in 75. Approximately 21,290 women receive an ovarian cancer diagnosis every year.
However, there are certain risk factors that can increase a woman’s chances of developing ovarian cancer. Some of the risk factors are uncontrollable, while others can be avoided. Below is a short list of some of the most common ovarian cancer risk factors:
- Increased age
- Pregnancy after age 35
- Reproductive difficulties (never carrying a pregnancy to term)
- Fertility drugsAndrogens (male hormones)
- Estrogen therapy and hormone therapy
- Family and/or personal history of ovarian, breast or colorectal cancer
- High-fat diets
There is one ovarian cancer risk factor that many women may not know. Talcum powder, which can be found in baby powder, body and facial powders, deodorant powders and other cosmetic products, has been linked to an increased ovarian cancer risk. When applied directly to the genital area or on sanitary napkins, studies have shown that cancer-causing components from the powder may reach the ovaries.
Specifically, one study found a possible 30 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer with the perineal or genital use of talcum powder. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also posted a warning about talcum powder and ovarian cancer on its website.
While ovarian cancer risk factors like increased age, family history and reproductive difficulties are out of a woman’s control, other factors like using talcum powder in the genital area, consuming high-fat diets or using male hormones are avoidable. It’s important to understand all of the potential risk factors for serious conditions like ovarian cancer – especially if you have ovarian, breast or colorectal cancer in your personal or family history.