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Dusting With Cancer: Coalition Urges Chicago Drug Stores to Label Talc

Dusting with Talc Increases the Risk of Ovarian Cancer, warns Professor of Environmental Medicine at the University of Illinois School of Public Health

CHICAGO, Nov. 17, 1994 — According to the Cancer Prevention Coalition, the regular use of talc increases the risk of ovarian cancer. The Cancer Prevention Coalition (CPC) will announce its plans for a talcum powder labeling initiative here in Chicago at a Thursday, November 17, 1994 press briefing.

Speakers at the press briefing will include CPC Chair Dr. Samuel Epstein, CPC Board members Dr. Quentin Young and Dr. Peter Orris, and an ovarian cancer survivor. The speakers will explain why a labeling initiative is important to residents of Chicago, and will also answer questions from the press.

Recently, CPC sent letters to the Chicago corporate offices of Osco and Walgreen drug stores urging that they provide customers with information on the dangers associated with the use of talc. Additionally, CPC is filing a petition with the FDA requesting that talc products be explicitly labeled.

The use of talc poses a serious risk of ovarian cancer. Estimates are that up to 17% of American women regularly use talc in the genital area. Women have been compelled through advertisements of the cosmetic industry, to dust themselves to mask odors. Talcum powder has historically been a symbol of freshness, cleanliness and purity. Talc is even more commonly used on infants.

Ovarian cancer is a silent killer. It causes 38 deaths daily among American women--totalling 14,000 deaths annually. It is the fourth highest women's cancer death rate in the U.S. Over 60% of ovarian cancer victims die within five years of diagnosis.

"Studies seem to indicate that talc poses an increased risk factor for ovarian cancer, thus I would support a warning label to alert women to this possible risk," stated Diane Farrell, a Chicago resident who has been fighting ovarian cancer for the last two years.

According to Dr. Samuel Epstein, of the Cancer Prevention Coalition, "A wide range of scientific studies over the last three decades have clearly linked regular talc use by women and ovarian cancer."

The talc labeling project is the first phase of a "Consumer Labeling Initiative" that will inform citizens of the presence of undisclosed carcinogenic ingredients and contaminants in cosmetics, other consumer products, and food and how to avoid them.

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