Ask Sofia: Is it safe to use talcum powder?
While the product has been around for generations, talcum powder is in the news more than ever. In February, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $72 million to a family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer after the family argued the death was linked to her use of baby powder. With many more cases regarding talcum powder filed elsewhere, questions about safety are cropping up.
Talcum powder is made from talc, which can absorb moisture and prevent rashes and is used in both baby and adult cosmetic products. Previously, talc contained asbestos, which has been linked to cancer, however, talc-containing cosmetics are now asbestos-free. Some scientists believe that talc can travel to the ovaries and create inflammation, bolstering the risk of ovarian cancer, while other studies have presented conflicting results. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a part of the World Health Organization, has classified talc as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” in regard to genital use.
To be safe, most scientists recommend that talcum powder not be used on or near the genitals to prevent potential inflammation. Talcum powder is also easy to inhale and prolonged exposure is not recommended.
“Fortunately, there are many options when it comes to cosmetics for both adults and babies, and we are happy to recommend other options if you are concerned,” said Dr. Amy Hammers.