March 25, 2021
Can something as innocent sounding as baby powder make you more vulnerable to health issues as serious as cancer?
Cosmetically used dusting powder has been under a lot of fire after the legal battles involving Johnson & Johnson. In 2016 and 2017 alone, Johnson & Johnson paid out over $700 million in legal settlements related to lawsuits involving talcum powder ovarian cancer. The pharmaceutical giant – Johnson, and Johnson were sued by women with ovarian cancer, stating that years of using their baby powder is responsible for their current health conditions.
So, what is the connection between talcum powder and cancer? Read on to learn more.
Baby powder is made using talc, which contains magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. These types of powder are renowned for their moisture-absorbing properties and their ability to reduce friction. For this reason, it is considered a valuable ingredient for maintaining dry skin and preventing skin irritations. It is used in various cosmetic items, including baby powder, adult body and facial powders, as well as numerous other consumer goods.
Talc is sourced through mining from earth, and in its natural state, some talc samples may contain asbestos, a known carcinogenic substance associated with lung cancer when inhaled.
According to the American Cancer Society, the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrances Association (CTFA), a trade organization representing the cosmetic and personal care product industry, established some voluntary guidelines in 1976. They declared that all talc utilized in cosmetic products in the United States must meet their standards, meaning it should be entirely free from detectable amounts of asbestos.
Scientists continue to be divided on whether today’s talcum powders still pose a health risk. However, here are some potential health risks that can result from its regular use:
All kinds of talcum powder, including baby-friendly variants, may expedite the development of ovarian cancer if female genitalia are exposed to it on a regular basis for a prolonged period.
While inhalation of talcum powder may not be directly linked to the development of lung cancer, studies have suggested it may increase the risk. It is because of the presence of various forms of asbestos in talcum powder.
Inhaling fine particles from talcum powder can lead to lung irritation and respiratory distress. Continuous exposure or application of talcum powder can negatively impact respiratory systems in individuals of all age groups, including infants, children, teenagers, and adults. Even asbestos-free talcum powder can provoke irritation and inflammation of the respiratory system when ingested or inhaled.
A rare condition known as pulmonary talcosis can result from inhaling talc through occupational exposure, consistent ingestion or inhalation of talc.
When it comes to preventing diaper rash in infants and young children, there are numerous natural and safe alternatives available. Instead of relying on talc-containing products for your baby's delicate skin, consider crafting your own DIY diaper rash cream using ingredients like coconut oil, beeswax, shea butter, witch hazel, and calendula. This homemade diaper cream effectively reduces inflammation and skin irritation without posing any significant risks.
Another secure option is magnesium oil, which boasts anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties that can expedite the healing process of diaper rash.
For women, there are natural alternatives to talc-based powders and products that effectively absorb moisture. For instance, baking soda offers multiple benefits for your skin and hair and serves as an excellent substitute.
Cornstarch is another option that can alleviate skin irritation. It can be applied to the skin to provide relief from bug bites, chafed skin, sunburns, etc.
For detailed guidance on the alternative options, consult a healthcare provider.
It may be a wise choice for everyone to avoid the application of talcum powder directly on genitalia or on hygiene products, such as sanitary napkins. However, if you are already in the high-risk category for cancer due to other factors like obesity, you are better off avoiding the use of talcum powder altogether.