Douching May Be Associated With Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Clarice Weinberg, Ph.D. Deputy Branch Chief Biostatistics and Computational Biology Branch National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences National Institutes of Health Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

Dr. Clarice Weinberg

Clarice Weinberg, Ph.D.
Deputy Branch Chief
Biostatistics and Computational Biology Branch
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
National Institutes of Health
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: A number of studies have reported a link between genital use of talc powders and ovarian cancer. We wondered whether the practice of douching could contribute to that risk by moving fibers and chemicals into and up the reproductive tract. We are carrying out the Sister Study, a large cohort study that enrolled more than 50,000 women who each had a sister diagnosed with breast cancer and who are consequently at increased risk of ovarian cancer. During the Sister Study enrollment interview, we asked each of them about their douching and use of talc in the previous 12 months. During approximately 6 years of follow up, 154 participants developed ovarian cancer. Our statistical analyses did not show any relationship between talc use and risk of ovarian cancer, but we estimated that women who had said they douched had almost double the risk for ovarian cancer compared to women who did not douche.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Ours is the first prospective study to specifically look at douching in relation to ovarian cancer and the finding will need to be replicated by others. This association would add to the growing list of good reasons not to douche.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Future studies that assess how using talc may affect the risk of ovarian cancer should also investigate exposure to douching, as the two behaviors are correlated. Information should be collected on the type of douche product used and the frequency of use. Women who douche have been reported to have higher blood levels of a class of chemicals called phthalates, and the role of those endocrine disruptor chemicals needs to be explored as a possible environmental contributor to ovarian cancer.

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Citation:

Epidemiology. 2016 Jun 20.
Douching, Talc Use, and Risk of Ovarian Cancer.
Gonzalez NL1, O’Brien KM, D’Aloisio AA, Sandler DP, Weinberg CR.

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