Landmark Study: No Association Between Powder and Ovarian Cancer
A study published Jan. 7 in the prestigious medical journal JAMA found no significant association between the genital application of powder and ovarian cancer. Researchers analyzed data from a combined total of 252,745 women from four previous studies, making this the largest study of its kind according to NPR. Women reported the frequency and length of their powder use, which could have been talcum powder, cornstarch, or both. Women who’d ever used powder had an 8% increase in ovarian cancer over those who’d never used powder. That translates to a 0.09% greater chance of ovarian cancer by age 70 which is not considered “statistically significant.”
As noted by Cancer Health, a larger cohort focusing only on women who have not had their uterus and fallopian tubes removed might alter results and accuracy. Additional limitations include racial demographics, frequency of powder use, and type of powder used. Researchers studied a predominately white population, despite a much higher use of talcum powder amongst African-American populations.
Talc is mined and often occurs near asbestos, a known carcinogen. Whether Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder contains asbestos – and whether it’s caused ovarian cancer and mesothelioma – has prompted roaring public controversy and inconsistent verdicts.
In October, Johnson & Johnson recalled 33,000 bottles of baby powder after the Food and Drug Administration found sub-trace levels of asbestos in one bottle. The company currently faces lawsuits from more than 17,000 plaintiffs. In 2018, a St. Louis jury awarded $4.7 billion to 20 women alleging the company’s powder caused their cancers. In 2019, the company prevailed in eight lawsuits and lost five.
Supreme Court Will Weigh Religious Objections to Contraception Requirement
On Friday the Supreme Court announced it will consider religious and moral exemptions to the Affordable Care Act mandate that private employer health coverage include contraception without co-payment. The Trump Administration and the Catholic charity Little Sisters of the Poor are appealing a July decision by a Third Circuit three-judge panel which upheld a nationwide preliminary injunction. The injunction blocked two “final” rules allowing religious and moral objections to contraceptive coverage issued by the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury in November 2018.
First issued as “interim final” rules in October 2017, preliminary injunctions blocking the rules were granted in December 2017, a week apart, by federal judges in Pennsylvania and California presiding over cases filed by Democratic attorneys general from a combined six states.
Mandatory contraceptive coverage has been highly litigated since the provision went into place in 2012, according to HealthAffairs. Houses of worship are not subject to the mandate and religious nonprofits can file an “accommodation” exempting the organization from paying for the contraceptive coverage employees can still obtain.
Binge Drinking: Good News and Bad News
On Thursday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a 2011-2017 study of U.S. adult binge drinking, defined as five or more drinks on one occasion for men and four or more drinks on one occasion for women. The percentage of binge drinkers decreased slightly from 18.9% to 18%. However, numbers of drinks consumed annually by binge drinkers rose 12.1%, which the CDC considered a “significant increase.” Increases were pronounced among both genders, those age 35 and older, and those with lower household incomes and educational attainments.
According to the CDC, one in ten adult (age 20-64) deaths involved excessive drinking. People in states with more restrictive alcohol policies are less likely to binge drink and experience harms such as alcohol-attributable motor vehicle crash deaths, alcoholic liver cirrhosis and alcohol-involved homicides and suicides than those in states with less restrictive policies.