Manufacturers of talcum powder products have convinced consumers that their body and baby powders are safe even for infants. However, national health agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Cancer Society, acknowledge there are safety concerns related to talc.
Talc is a naturally occurring mineral that contains elements such as magnesium, silicon and oxygen. It can also contain asbestos, though many manufacturers claim that their talc-containing products do not contain detectable amounts of the carcinogen. Regardless, talcum powder has been linked to serious health problems including an inflammation in the lungs known as talcosis, mesothelioma, and ovarian cancer.
Talc is used to make body powder, baby powder, and cosmetics. It is also often used as a food additive. Until recently it was widely considered “safe overall,” said Dr. Jos Rooijakers, a pulmonologist from the Netherlands Expertise Centre for Occupational Respiratory Diseases (NECOD). However, he added, reports of talcosis from occupational exposure to talc have raised concerns among people who work in environments where they can inhale talc particles.
Talc can also wreak havoc in other parts of the body. Some talc-containing products, such as Shower to Shower, were promoted for use on the genitals to control odor. But researchers have found that genital use of talcum powder products can cause ovarian cancer. In fact, as much as 10 percent – or 2,000– of new ovarian cancer diagnoses each year could be linked to genital use of talcum powder.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization (WHO), classifies talc as “carcinogenic to humans,” and based on evidence from human studies linking talcum powder products to ovarian cancer, IARC classifies the perineal (genital) use of talc-based body powder as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
Source: Medical Daily