Most people have heard that talcum powder is made from talc—a mineral composed magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. What they may not know is another mineral known as asbestos may also appear in natural talc. This means that America’s decades-long remedy for diaper rash, moisture absorption, and all around freshness could be hazardous to your health.
It is a known fact that there is no "safe level" of asbestos exposure, so even a “small” amount applied daily to any area of the body can cause conditions such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other cancers. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), it has been suggested that “talcum powder might cause ovarian cancer if the powder particles (applied to the genital area or on personal care products) were to travel through the vagina, uterus, and fallopian tubes to the ovary.” Other studies on lung, stomach, endometrial and other cancers are mixed, but all suggest a risk.
Recently though, 4,800 women filed lawsuits against the world’s largest talcum powder brand, alleging that it’s baby powder caused their ovarian cancer. So far, the company has lost numerous cases, including verdicts of $417 million, $110 million, $72 million, and $55 million, to name a few.
Though research continues to be mixed, with some studies suggesting an increased risk of cancer from using talcum powder, the ACS says, “if you have concerns about talcum powder, avoid using it or limit use of products that contain it.”
If you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor right away. Though there is no cure for mesothelioma, early detection could increase treatment options and improve outcomes.
Bomey, Nathan. "Baby Powder Lawsuit: Woman with Ovarian Cancer Awarded $110M from Johnson & Johnson." USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 05 May 2017. Web. 16 Oct. 2017.
Hsu, Tiffany. "Risk on All Sides as 4,800 Women Sue Over Johnson’s Baby Powder and Cancer." The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 28 Sept. 2017. Web. 06 Oct. 2017.
"Talcum Powder and Cancer." American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society, Inc., 2017. Web. 06 Oct. 2017.
"When Is Asbestos Dangerous?" Environmental Health and Safety. Oregon State University (OSU), 21 July 2009. Web. 06 Oct. 2017.
Winton, Richard. "L.A. Jury Hits Johnson & Johnson with $417-million Verdict over Cancer Link to Its Talc." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 21 Aug. 2017. Web. 16 Oct. 2017.