The Hidden Dangers of Talcum Powder

We typically associate talcum powder with sweet-smelling, clean babies, and all the innocence surrounding them. Yet, talcum powder actually has a menacing nature that could pose health risks, of which many people are unaware.

In 1883, Johnson & Johnson began marketing their talcum powder to the public as a way to control moisture and prevent rashes on babies, and by World War I, it was the most widely used baby product in the world. Notwithstanding this long relationship, the product's reputation has not gone unquestioned.

Well into the 1970s, most consumer brands of talcum powder contained asbestos. Yes, the same mineral associated with mesothelioma was a component in the powder used by mothers and babies to prolong that freshly bathed feeling. Around that time, manufacturers stopped including asbestos as an ingredient in powder after occupational studies linked accumulating asbestos in the ovaries with a risk of ovarian cancer. However, removing asbestos has not completely eliminated all health risks analogous with talcum powder use.

Talc is a mineral containing various elements, including silicon, magnesium, and oxygen. The elements are finely-ground and added to many health and beauty products to absorb moisture. Even in the absence of asbestos, these products can be skin and lung irritants. In 2006, use of non-asbestos talcum powder was shown to have potential cancer causing effects on humans, based on a study conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Additionally, a 2013 study by the American Association for Cancer Research has indicated a 20 to 30 percent greater risk of developing epithelial ovarian cancer. Researchers speculate that continued use of talcum powders on a female's genital area may allow for particles to travel through the vagina, uterus, and fallopian tubes to the ovaries. While evidence is still inconclusive, it does highlight some health concerns.

In 2013, health officials in India discovered that a local manufacturing facility had failed to remove completely, an antibacterial agent used to sterilize medical equipment before shipping Johnson & Johnson's baby powder to the market. The substance, ethylene oxide, is known to be carcinogenic.

Concerns about the presence of asbestos in other health and beauty products containing talc prompted the FDA to supervise studies of blush, eye shadow, and face and body powders between 2009 and 2010. According to the report, no asbestos was found in any of the samples. However, only four manufacturers provided samples- J & J's baby powder was among them.

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If you or a family member has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer or fallopian tube cancer and you used talcum powder on a regular basis, contact our firm today. One of our experienced product liability attorneys will evaluate your case and help you determine if you are entitled to compensation.