Right from your childhood, you must have seen talcum powder present in your house. It has to have a place on your dressing table or in your beauty kit. There’s rarely any person who must not have used or sprinkled talcum powder on them.
When it comes to talcum powder, who could forget the famous case against the baby powder manufacturing giant, Johnson & Johnson? A woman named Jackie Fox from Tarrant sued the company claiming that the powder products which she used for 35 years caused her ovarian cancer. Unfortunately, the woman died but her family was awarded $72 million by the company.
Astonishingly, she was among 60 other women who sued Johnson & Johnson after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. A testimony in a lawsuit against the same company suggests that the talc powder may be responsible for as many as 10,000 cases of ovarian cancer each year. Can you imagine, a brand symbolized with freshness and cleanliness can be life-threatening?
What is Talcum Powder?
Talcum powder is commonly referred to as a baby powder or body powder. It is widely used in cosmetics and to reduce rashes and diaper irritation in babies and infants. It is also used as a personal hygiene product by many men & women.
Talcum powder is made from a soft mineral called hydrous magnesium silicate. The mineral is usually crushed, dried and then milled. Talc in its natural form contains asbestos, a substance known to cause cancer in and around the lungs when inhaled. It works by absorbing the moisture and reducing friction from the skin. Thus, claiming to protect the skin, which we all should know, is false and dangerous.
Health Dangers of Using Talcum Powder
Studies have linked the use of baby powder and feminine body powders with an increased risk of ovarian cancer. So, let’s talk about the possible health dangers of the same:
Ovarian Cancer –
There are dozens of studies that suggest a strong connection between talc and ovarian cancer. A study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention examined more than 1,300 African American women. About 62.8 percent of the women with ovarian cancer were found to use baby powder.
Many women apply baby powder or any other product containing talc to her genital area. There are high chances that the powder particles can travel through her vagina, into her uterus and fallopian tubes and finally enter ovaries. It is estimated that one out of five women applies talc to her genitals. Either through direct application or by dusting talc on tampons, sanitary pads and diaphragms. The talc particles can remain in the body for an extended period of time and cause inflammation.
2. Lung Cancer –
There have been conflicting results about the risk of lung cancer with talcum powder. The main reason is the connection between lung cancer and asbestos. Talc in its natural form contains a varying amount of asbestos and other minerals. There are stronger scientific results that suggest a link between talcum powder and other lung-related issues such as pulmonary talcosis, fibrosis, and granulomatosis.
However, talc miners and millers are always at a high risk of developing lung cancer. They’re often in contact with natural pockets of asbestos and exposed to high levels of radon, both of them being major risk factors for lung cancer.
3. Lung Disease –
Small particles present in talcum powder, when inhaled can cause lung irritation and respiratory distress. There are talcum powders which are asbestos-free, but they can still cause irritation and inflammation of the respiratory system. Continuous application of the same can affect infants, children, teen, and adults.
Inhalation of talc due to occupational exposure or continued inhalation can cause pulmonary talcosis, a type of lung disease. This is a rare disorder which can result in inflammation, chronic cough and difficulty breathing.
Respiratory Problems in Infants and Children
While changing the diaper or clothes, there are chances that the baby or infant inhales the tiny particles in baby powder. This can produce a drying effect on their mucous membranes and affect breathing ability which further causes serious lung damages.
4. Granulomatosis –
Some medications contain talc to hold the components of the medicine together, and the same medicines are later on consumed orally. This can cause a condition called talc granulomatosis. When talc enters blood it can cause arterial obstruction, loss of blood flow to bone tissue and the formation of granulomas in the lungs.
Talc is not only present in baby powder and body powder, but also in following products which we use on daily basis:
- Powdered makeup
- Face powder
- Lip balm/ Lipstick
- Face masks
- Bath bombs
- Feminine hygiene products
Keep this list in check and before buying any of these products, look out for the label that says, “talcum powder” or “cosmetic powder.” You can also choose the companies with products that certify ‘talc-free.’
For Baby –
- To prevent diaper rash in young children and infants there are many safe and natural ways. Ditch the commercial products and make your own DIY diaper rash cream.
- One can also use magnesium oil which will heal diaper rash quickly due to its anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties.
For Adults –
- Cornstarch is a good option to relieve skin irritation.
- Go for “all-natural” brands that use cornstarch or arrowroot instead of talcum powder.
If you’ve been using talcum powder for years and you’re worried about whether you may be at risk of developing ovarian cancer, or any other related disease, immediately talk with your doctor.
Be Happy, Be Peppy. 🙂
Article Credits: Hafsa Zamindar | Mumbai | India