Don’t be fooled by names, baby powder should not be used on infants, warns Dr. Andrew Weil, medical doctor and writer on holistic health. “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against using baby powder as do many individual pediatricians,” he says.
The issue is talcum powder, derived from talc, a mineral composed of hydrated magnesium silicate. It may also contain asbestos, a mineral that has been linked to lung cancer. The danger in using baby powder on infants, Dr. Weil says, “is that babies can easily inhale tiny particles of it that are light enough to be carried in the air. When inhaled, talc can dry an infant’s mucous membranes, adversely affect the baby’s breathing, and cause serious lung damage.”
Dr. Weil references studies that have shown talc can lead to shortness of breath and wheezing in babies and can also lead to obstruction of the airways. “Some babies have developed pneumonia and some have died as a result of respiratory failure from inhaling the powder.”
Talcum powder can also be found in body powder and facial powders, and while manufacturers have been required to remove any cancer-causing asbestos from the products, researchers say talc-containing products still carry cancer risks. Studies have shown that women who put talcum powder products on their genital areas are at an increased risk for ovarian cancer. As many as 10,000 cases of ovarian cancer a year could be blamed on regular talcum powder use, researchers say.
“In fact,” Dr. Weil says, “the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a part of the World Health Organization, classifies the use of talc-based powders on the genital region as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans.’” And even the American Cancer Society suggests as a precaution that woman should limit their use of the products.
Source: Dr. Weil