What Factors Indicate a Predisposition for Ovarian Cancer?

Risk factors are anything which alters a person’s chances of developing a disease like cancer. As an example, individuals who regularly smoke increase their risk for many different types of cancer. Those who consistently go out in the sun with no sunscreen increase their risk for skin cancer. That being said, even if you have a risk factor—or even a number of risk factors—you are not destined to develop a disease. Further, there are people who have no risk factors at all, yet have developed cancer. Researchers have compiled a list of factors which they believe alter a woman’s chances of being diagnosed with epithelial ovarian cancer—the most common type. The following risk factors do not apply to rarer types of ovarian cancer such as stromal and germ cell tumors.  The risk factors include:

  • Age is one of the primary factors in the development of epithelial ovarian cancer, as this cancer is rare among women younger than forty. The median age for a diagnosis of epithelial ovarian cancer is 63. Most ovarian cancers are diagnosed after a woman has gone through menopause. 
  • Obese women (those women with a body mass index of at least 30), have a higher risk of developing epithelial ovarian cancer.
  • The reproductive history of a woman also has a significant bearing on her risk of developing epithelial ovarian cancer. Women who have carried a pregnancy to term before they reached the age of 26 have a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer than women who have not. Each full-term pregnancy continues to lower a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer while women who have their first pregnancy after the age of 35, or those who have never carried a pregnancy to term increase their risk of ovarian cancer. Women who breastfeed their babies lower their risk of developing ovarian cancer even more.
  • Women who have used birth control pills appear to have a lower chance of developing ovarian cancer—the longer the use, the lower the risk.
  • Women who have undergone a tubal ligation or a hysterectomy reduce their chances of developing ovarian cancer by as much as two-thirds and one-third, respectively.
  • Women who have used the fertility drug Clomid for longer than a year have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. It appears the risk is highest for those women who failed to get pregnant while on the drug.
  • Women who have taken androgens, a male hormone, may have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
  • Women who use estrogen following menopause have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer, and that risk appears to be higher when estrogen is taken without progesterone for a period of 5-10 years.
  • Women who have a close family relative (mother, sister, and daughter) either has ovarian cancer or has had ovarian cancer. The greater number of close relatives with the disease, the greater the risk. A family history of breast cancer or colorectal cancer has also been linked to an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
  • Inherited changes or mutations in certain genes, known as family cancer syndrome contributes to about 5-10 percent of all ovarian cancers.
  • Inherited mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are linked to a higher risk of ovarian cancer as well as breast, fallopian tube, primary peritoneal, pancreatic and prostate cancers. Women with the BRCA1 mutation have between a 35 and 70 percent higher lifetime risk of ovarian cancer.
  • A syndrome known as Cowden disease increases a woman’s chances of developing ovarian cancer. Those with Cowden disease are primarily affected with breast cancer, thyroid cancer and other thyroid problems.
  • Women who have hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer also have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. About one percent of all ovarian epithelial cancers are diagnosed among women who have this syndrome.
  • Women who have a rare genetic syndrome known as Peutz-Jeghers syndrome have an increased risk of epithelial and stromal ovarian cancer due to mutations in the STK11 gene.  
  • Women with a syndrome known as MUTYH-associated polyposis, have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer due to mutations in the MUTYH gene.  
  • If you have had breast cancer you might have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
  • Some studies suggest that talcum powder, used for feminine hygiene, may increase the risk of a woman developing talcum powder ovarian cancer*.
  • A low-fat diet, as well as one high in vegetables, when followed for at least four years, appears to lower a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and limited amounts of red meat and processed meat.
  • Some studies have suggested that the use of aspirin and acetaminophen in women could potentially lower the risk of developing ovarian cancer; however women who don’t already take these medications should not start.
  • While smoking does not appear to affect the overall risk of developing ovarian cancer, it is linked to one specific type of ovarian cancer—mucinous.
  • Alcohol does not appear to be linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer.


Does the use of Talcum Powder, Baby Powder with Talc, or “Shower to Shower” for Feminine Hygiene Carry a Risk for Ovarian Cancer?

Many people have heard something on television or read something regarding the potential link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. Talcum powder ovarian cancer dangers are creating considerable anxiety for women across the United States. The issue at hand is whether the use of talcum powder (baby powder with talc and “Shower to Shower” both contain talc) for feminine hygiene increases the risk of ovarian cancer. A significant body of research has found that the talcum powder ovarian cancer danger is very real, with some studies reporting an increased risk for developing ovarian cancer between 30-40 percent among women using talcum powder in the genital area.


As far back as the 1970’s researchers found talc fibers in nine out of thirteen ovarian cancer tumors which had been removed. The theory is that the talc fibers migrate through the vagina, the uterus, fallopian tubes, and into the ovaries. Once in the ovaries, the talc fibers cause significant inflammation—a well-known factor in the development of many different cancers. During the first few months of 2016, Johnson & Johnson came out on the losing end of two talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits. The first lawsuit, brought by the family of Jacqueline Fox, who died from talcum powder ovarian cancer about four months before the trial began, ended with a $72 million verdict for the plaintiffs.


The second talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit was brought by Gloria Ristesund, who used J & J baby powder with talc for nearly forty years, and was diagnosed with talcum powder ovarian cancer in 2011. A Missouri jury awarded Ristesund $55 million.

A considerable amount of both monetary awards were designated as punitive damages, meaning the jury believed Johnson and Johnson exhibited willful or deliberate negligence. Johnson & Johnson continues to maintain that talc is safe and there was no need to include warnings about talcum powder ovarian cancer risks on J & J’s baby powder with talc or Shower to Shower products.


What Options Exist for Victims of Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer / Baby Powder Ovarian Cancer?

If you are a victim of ovarian cancer and you believe that your long-term use of talcum powder, (both baby powder with talc and “Shower to Shower” contain talc) for feminine hygiene contributed to the development of the disease, speaking to a knowledgeable talcum powder ovarian cancer attorney could be beneficial. While no amount of money can truly compensate you after developing baby powder cancer, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. This compensation could include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and possibly even punitive damages. If Johnson & Johnson failed to warn women about a known baby powder (with talc) ovarian cancer risk, they may be liable for damages in connection with your talcum powder ovarian cancer. An experienced talcum powder ovarian cancer lawyer can advocate on your behalf and aggressively pursue compensation for your injuries.


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