New Study Suggests Link Between Talcum Powder and Malignant Mesothelioma


A new study by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine shows that baby powder contains talc that causes cancer. While several jury trials were in favor of the patients, Johnson & Johnson appealed most of them on the grounds that the cases have conflicting evidence and “no proof.” To understand why baby powder might have cancer-causing talc – or asbestos – in it, you have to understand a few things, including the in it, you have to understand a few things, including the difference between talc and asbestos.

Talc and Asbestos

Both elements occur naturally on earth and both are mined products. However, a talc deposit might be contaminated with chrysotile asbestos, which is the cancer-causing agent. Once the miners mine the talc, they must purify it to get rid of the chysotile asbestos, if the deposit they found was contaminated. The chemical makeup for both products are very similar. In fact, they both contain magnesium, silicon, oxygen and hydrogen, but in different amounts. It’s when you have more or less of one or more of the elements that determine whether the element causes cancer or is harmless talc.

Why Baby Powder Causes Mesothelioma

In some cases, the miners do not get all of the chrysotile asbestos out of the mined talc, and the cancer-causing agent ends up in talcum powder. The FDA does not regulate beauty products, and that includes talcum powder. The above-mentioned study looked at 33 people, all of whom the researchers were able to show had no other exposure to anything that caused mesothelioma other than the baby powder. All 33 people had mesothelioma and all 33 used baby powder consistently.

When consumers use baby powder that is laced with chrysotile asbestos on a daily basis, or even several times per week, they breathe in the talcum dust, which contains asbestos. It’s the traces of asbestos in the talcum powder that causes cancer, not the talc itself. There have also been a few cases where women using baby powder for feminine hygiene have gotten ovarian cancer because of the asbestos in the baby powder.

While researchers have advised people to use something other than baby powder, those who have been using it for many years still have the risk of developing cancer from the chrysotile asbestos that was not removed from the talc before it went into baby powder.

Talc and Asbestos in Other Products

Baby powder is not the only cosmetic that uses talc. You can find talc in blush and other beauty products. However, the type of asbestos found in talc is not the same as the type of asbestos found in insulation and other products. Because of this, researchers were able to pin down the reasons for mesothelioma and ovarian cancer as cosmetics, including baby powder, made from talc. If you are currently using baby powder or other products with talc in them, you should switch to a substitute product that does not have talc in it. If you have been using baby powder for many years, especially on a daily basis, you should keep an eye out for the symptoms of mesothelioma and ovarian cancer.

Contact Wallace & Graham

If you have a diagnosis of mesothelioma or ovarian cancer and you frequently use baby powder, contact Wallace & Graham to set up a consultation to discuss your case.


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