Talcum Powder Risks

Baby powder is a great way to remove unwanted moisture and prevent chafing. However, the risks of using baby powder are far greater than its benefits. Here are five reasons why you should never put baby powder on your skin again.

Talcum powder is a kind of powder. Although it seems harmless, did you realize that experts have been warning us about possible dangers since the 1960s? Talcum powder is a mineral-based substance that is often used in baby powder and other cosmetics. Even though published health studies connect talcum powder usage to ovarian cancer, millions of men and women continue to use it to absorb moisture and keep themselves fresh. It’s still a standard method for preventing diaper rash in babies and young children.

In 2016 and 2017, Johnson & Johnson paid out more than $700 million in talcum powder/ovarian cancer-related litigation settlements, with tens of thousands more pending. Reuters just published an exclusive story claiming that Johnson & Johnson is considering filing for bankruptcy to unload obligations related to baby powder lawsuits. According to Reuters, Johnson & Johnson may utilize a newly formed company to resolve talcum powder lawsuits before filing for bankruptcy, resulting in lesser payments for claims that did not settle previously.

Despite this, individuals continue to use talc-based products on themselves and their children. Perhaps they aren’t persuaded of talcum powder’s possible health risks, even though many research and case reports demonstrate its dangers.

Baby powder and talc-containing products should never be used on your skin, according to previous studies. Furthermore, simply breathing these chemicals may be hazardous. The good news is that many natural talcum powder substitutes are both safe and effective.

What Is Baby Powder’s Purpose?

To absorb moisture and reduce friction, baby powder is frequently used. In addition, it may help prevent rashes and other skin irritations, including chafing when applied to the skin. Many women use baby powder to keep their perineum, undergarments, or pads fresh and dry.

Talcum powder is frequently used to avoid caking and provide a smooth look in cosmetics products such as foundation and cosmetic powder. Parents also frequently use it to protect their babies and young children against bacterial overgrowth, yeast, and diaper rash.

Talcum powder, often known as baby powder, is produced from talc, a clay mineral that contains magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. Talc is mined near asbestos, another naturally occurring mineral that has been linked to cancer. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “to avoid talc contamination with asbestos, it is critical to carefully choose talc mining locations and take measures to cleanse the ore adequately.”

Although the FDA considers cosmetic talc tainted with asbestos undesirable, no government needs to test and approve decorative goods and components before they hit shop shelves. The FDA performed a study in 2009 and 2010 to address safety concerns about talc in powders and cosmetic items.

The FDA requested that nine talc suppliers take part in the study by submitting samples of their talc. Unfortunately, only four of the nine providers cooperated with the request. Meanwhile, asbestos contamination was detected in 34 cosmetic items bought from the Washington, D.C. region retail shops. The study revealed no asbestos in any samples or items tested, but the FDA claims that the results are restricted since just four suppliers submitted samples and the testing was confined to only 34 goods. As a result, this study does not establish that most or all talc-containing goods marketed in the United States are asbestos-free.

Cancer Risks from Baby Powder

1. Cancer of the Ovaries

According to the American Cancer Society, numerous research in women looked at the connection between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. When a woman uses baby powder or any other talc-containing product on her genital region, the powder particles may pass into the vaginal canal, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.

The first research linking talc to ovarian cancer was published in 1971 when talc particles were discovered in human ovarian and uterine cancers. In 1982, the study found a connection between genital talc usage and ovarian cancer. Hundreds more research since then has shown a significant relationship.

The link between ovarian cancer and vaginal talc usage was investigated in a Boston research published in Epidemiology in 2016. Researchers looked at talc usage in 2,041 ovarian cancer patients and 2,100 women of comparable ages and regions who acted as controls. According to the findings, talc usage in the vaginal area raised the risk of ovarian cancer by 33%. The longer a woman went without using talcum powder in her vaginal area, the lower her cancer risk became. However, those who used the powder regularly had a higher risk of ovarian cancer.

More than 1,300 African American women took part in another research published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. Baby powder was used by 62.8 percent of the women who had ovarian cancer, suggesting a link between baby powder usage and the risk of ovarian cancer.

A court recently ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million in damages to a 63-year-old woman who got ovarian cancer after putting baby powder on her vaginal region when she was eleven years old, according to a New York Times story published in August 2017. More than 5,000 baby powder-related claims have been filed against Johnson & Johnson, alleging carcinogenic consequences. Between 2016 and 2017, Johnson & Johnson suffered losses totaling more than $700 million.

2. Cancer of the Lungs

Although breathing talcum powder may not be directly linked to the development of lung cancer, studies have shown that talc miners and millers have a higher risk of lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses. This is most likely due to the many types of asbestos that may be found in talc.

A 2015 assessment of data published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine revealed an increase in lung cancer death rates among talc miners. However, talc exposure may have been confused by other carcinogens, and the data couldn’t be modified to assess just talc effects.

Another research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology looked at the risk of lung cancer and respiratory illness among ceramic plumbing fixture workers exposed to asbestos-free talc and silica. According to the findings, employees exposed to high amounts of silica dust but not talc had a low risk of lung cancer. Workers exposed to talc in combination with high amounts of silica, on the other hand, had a 2.5-fold higher risk of lung cancer. In addition, the longer someone was exposed to talc in the job, the higher their death rate became.

3. Lung Illness

Talcum powder has highly tiny particles that may cause lung inflammation and respiratory discomfort if inhaled. Therefore, talcum powder may harm babies, adolescents, teenagers, and adults if they are exposed to it regularly. When eaten or breathed, even asbestos-free talcum powder may cause irritation and inflammation of the respiratory system.

Pulmonary talcosis is an uncommon lung illness induced by inhalation of talc due to occupational exposure or continuous inhalation or ingestion of talc. For example, a 24-year-old woman had a 4-month routine of inhaling cosmetic talcum powder, according to a study published in BMJ Case Reports. After ten years, she got talcosis. Inflammation, a persistent cough, and trouble breathing are all symptoms of this condition.

4. Infants and Children’s Respiratory Conditions

There are many case reports of talcum powder causing harm to babies and preschool children. Inhalation during a child’s diaper or clothes change has been reported in poison control center reports. When infants or toddlers inhale the tiny particles in baby powder, it may dry up their mucous membranes and make it difficult for them to breathe. When a large amount of powder is lived in a short period or over time, it may cause severe lung injury.

A 12-week-old infant swallowed and consumed baby powder inadvertently spilled on his face during a diaper change, according to a case report published in the BMJ. He vomited and refused to eat after coughing and choking on the powder. He was taken to the hospital four hours later with severe breathing problems. His health worsened thirty minutes after being admitted to the hospital, and he fell into respiratory arrest. He vomited a white talc-like material once his airway was secured.

 5. Granulomatosis

Intravenous drug users who inject talc-containing pills meant for oral consumption develop talc granulomatosis. Talc is utilized in these tablets to keep the medication’s components together. According to studies, injecting talc into blood arteries may induce arterial blockage, loss of blood flow to bone tissue, and granulomas in the lungs. In addition, an infection or inflammation induced by the presence of foreign material causes granulomas to develop.

Where Else Can Talcum Powder Be Found?

Talc isn’t only found in baby powder; it’s also included in various items that most people use regularly. The following is a list of talc-containing products:

  • Bombs for the bath
  • Products for the shower
  • Soap
  • Lotions
  • Hygiene products for women
  • Blush
  • Bronzer
  • Makeup for the face
  • Foundation
  • Makeup for the eyes
  • Lipstick
  • Masks for the face
  • Toothpaste
  • Deodorants

Look for the words “talcum powder” or “cosmetic talc” on the label before purchasing any items. If you must use talc-containing goods, look for businesses that guarantee talc-free products, mainly if the powder or lotion will be used in your pelvic region.


For Baby

Preventing diaper rash in babies and young children may be done in various natural and safe methods. Make your own DIY diaper rash ointment using coconut oil, beeswax, shea butter, witch hazel, and calendula instead of depending on commercial treatments for your baby’s skin. This homemade diaper lotion can assist in relieving inflammation and irritation on your baby’s skin without putting them in danger.

Magnesium oil is another entirely safe option. In addition, it contains anti-inflammatory and wound-healing qualities, which may aid in the fast healing of diaper rash.

For Women

There are natural alternatives to using talc-based powders or products that efficiently absorb moisture and keep you feeling fresh. Baking soda, for example, has many skin and hair benefits.

Cornstarch may also be used to soothe irritated skin. Bug bites, chaffed skin, sunburns, jock itch, athlete’s foot, and diaper rash may all be relieved by applying it to the skin.

Last Thoughts

  • Talcum powder, often known as baby powder, is produced from talc, a clay mineral containing magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. Talc is mined near asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral with hazardous properties.
  • According to many studies, inhaling talc or applying talc-containing items to the skin has been linked to ovarian cancer, lung cancer, lung illness, and respiratory disease in women, babies, children, and male miners or millers.
  • Natural alternatives to talc-containing goods, such as cosmetic foundation, deodorant, baby powder, lipstick, and lotion, may help you avoid the risks of using or breathing talc.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should you never use baby talcum powder?

A: Talcum powder is not safe for babies. It can be dangerous if it gets in their eyes or mouth.

What are the dangers of using talcum powder?

A: Talcum powder is a cosmetic product that is used to absorb moisture from the skin. It can be dangerous if it gets into your eyes, nose, or mouth and causes an allergic reaction. There are also some reports of talcum powder causing cancer in lab rats.

Is baby powder safe for your skin?

A: Baby powder is not safe for your skin. It can cause irritation and dryness of the skin, leading to more severe problems like dermatitis.

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.


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