Talcum powder, also known as body powder or baby powder, offers a soft, pleasant-smelling way of keeping skin dry in order to prevent rashes, but it could cause more harm than good. A new analysis of eight research papers involving nearly 2,000 women found that those who used talcum powder on their genital areas were at a 20 to 30 percent greater risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Talcum powder comes from the milling of talc rocks and contains minerals such as magnesium and silicon. The powder used to contain asbestos, known to cause mesothelioma, a type of cancer of the tissues around the lungs or abdomen. Even with asbestos removed, there is still concern that other minerals could be hazardous.
Talcum powder’s light, airy texture makes it easy for the substance’s tiny bits to float in the air, making it easy to inhale. Doing so can cause breathing problems and can even damage the lungs. When used in the genital area, it can also travel through the vagina, into the uterus, up the fallopian tubes and into the ovaries, where it can inflame tissue and lead to cancerous growth.
The link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer is not new. An analysis conducted a decade ago combining data from 16 studies found a 30 percent increase in ovarian cancer among women who used the powder in their genital area. Some researchers say as many as 10,000 cases of ovarian cancer each year may be caused by talcum powder used for personal hygiene.
With so many studies drawing a line between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer, one would think that makers of talc-containing products would want to warn consumers of this risk. However, consumer health care giant Johnson & Johnson is refusing to add warnings to its products even after a jury found the company’s Shower to Shower body powder had caused a woman to develop ovarian cancer.
Source: The Guardian