No Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer With Perineal Powder Use


Key Points

  • Ever-use of powder was not associated with increased ovarian cancer risk.
  • No association between risk and increased duration of powder use was observed.

Perineal powder use has been associated with increased risk of ovarian cancer in case-control studies and with increased risk of serous invasive ovarian cancer in a cohort study. In a large cohort study reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Houghton et al found no significant association between ever-use or duration of use of perineal powder and ovarian cancer risk.

Study Details

The study involved data from 61,576 postmenopausal women in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study without a history of cancer at baseline or bilateral oophorectomy. Perineal powder use was assessed by self-report of use on genitals, sanitary pads, and diaphragms. The primary outcome was self-reported ovarian cancer centrally adjudicated by physicians. Follow-up continued through February 2012.

No Association With Ever Use

Overall, 52.6% of women reported perineal powder use. During mean follow-up of 12.4 years, 429 women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  On multivariate analysis, ever-use of perineal powder was not associated with significantly increased risk of cancer (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] = 1.06, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.87–1.28), nor were ever-use of powder on the genitals (HR = 1.12, 95% CI = 0.92–1.36), sanitary napkins (HR = 0.95, 95% CI = 0.76–1.20), or diaphragms (HR = 0.92, 95% CI = 0.68–1.23) considered separately.

No Association With Duration of Use

Duration of powder use overall (P = .77 for trend) or on the genitals (P = .67 for trend), sanitary napkins (P = .69 for trend), or diaphragms (P = .67 for trend) was not associated with increased ovarian cancer risk. Use of powder on genitals, the most common application area, for ≥ 20 years was not associated with increased risk vs never-users (HR = 1.10, 95% CI = 0.82–1.48). In addition, a sensitivity analysis indicated no increased risk of invasive serous ovarian cancer (HR = 0.96, 95% CI = 0.65–1.41), including among women with use > 10 years. Risk estimates did not differ according to stratification by age or tubal ligation status.

The investigators concluded: “[P]erineal powder use did not appear to be associated with ovarian cancer risk in this large sample of postmenopausal women, even with use for long durations.”

Susan R. Sturgeon, DrPH, MPH, of University of Massachusetts Amherst, is the corresponding author for the Journal of the National Cancer Institute article.

The Women’s Health Initiative program is funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and National Institutes of Health.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.