Is there any link between talcum powder and cancer?

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Earlier this week, a California jury awarded $525 million to Eva Echeverria, who claimed that her use of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder caused her terminal ovarian cancer.

Talcum powder has been used for decades, not only on babies, but by people of all ages.

The results of this case beg the question: why isn’t there a warning on the label? And what other seemingly innocuous household products could cause cancer?

Talcum powder is made from talc, a soft mineral that absorbs moisture, keeping skin dry and preventing rashes. Talc deposits are often found near asbestos ore, because the two ores are similar. In the past, asbestos was found in some talcum powder which, when inhaled, could have caused cancer.

However, the current case for talcum powder being carcinogenic may not be clear cut.

Last year, Cancer Council NSW released a report about the link between talcum powder and cancer, which stated no correlation between the two.

“In its natural form, some talc may contain asbestos, which is known to cause cancer. However, modern domestic talcum powder does not contain asbestos,” states the report.

“When you mine talc in it’s natural form it has asbestos, but it’s removed before it is allowed for human use,” said Cancer Council Australia Chief Executive Professor Sanchia Aranda.

But there is confusing information about whether there is a relationship between cancer and talcum powder. The Cancer Council Australia website lists situations with an ‘inferred risk of cancer’, which includes ‘perineal use of talc-based body powder’ as one such risk.

But the Cancer Council NSW report maintains that “some studies report a slightly increased risk, while others have found no increase. The evidence is insufficient to conclude that use of talcum powder leads to an increased risk of ovarian cancer”.

Prof Aranda believes that past studies linking talc to cancer may have been flawed.

Until the inconsistencies surrounding links between talcum powder and cancer are resolved, court cases, such as Ms Echeverria’s will hang in the balance. In the US alone, there are thousands of similar cases pending.

Prof Aranda has no qualms about using talcum powder.

“I would not be concerned at all,” she said.

Do you use talcum powder? Would this knowledge stop you from using it? Or are you comfortable the talcum powder is safe for you and your family?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Total Comments: 33
  1. 0

    I used to use the baby talc on my children when they were infants and used a scented talc on myself years ago. I stopped using it because it was messy.

  2. 0

    I have known this theory for a long time. Do I still have talcum powder in the cupboard, yes. Sometimes it is very useful to calm itchy skin. However I am much more careful with how I apply it and try not to get it too airborne.
    I don’t think I would use it on infants anymore.

  3. 0

    We are also told injections are quite safe and billions of dollars are being awarded to people injured and even dying with failed vaccinations. Is there a reason for the awards? Or are the courts just trying to distribute excess funds? Personally we take the approach to do our own research. Supposed “Safe Things” are often very much the opposite.

    • 0

      Take yourself to a cemetery and read the head stones and count yourself lucky it wasn’t you who got polio, scarlet fever or tetanus from a rose thorn in the garden.
      If you don’t believe in the universe, medical science and the atom then close the doors, burn the books and pull down the blinds – but please don’t drag the rest of the world back into medieval days of ignorance and bigotry.
      They have just discussed the scientific effects of Talcum powered. No clear conclusion was given. – it has nothing to do with vaccinations.
      When you took your child to the doctor for immunisations you would have been warned of the potential side effects. The children are then asked to wait in the surgery for 20 minutes to see if they have any adverse effect.
      You can have that – or you can watch your child die from small pox, cholera, diptheria, measles, mumps or whooping cough. Take a pick.

    • 0

      Rosret. You are absolutely right. So many people have forgotten about these deadly diseases.

    • 0

      The awards as made through the Courts are usually done as a concession to the claimant. They are neither an admission nor a concession of “guilt”. Because many claims can drag on for years, it is far cheaper and easier for companies to authorise a concession and hope that it all goes away. The companies have also taken out insurance against such payouts and often they do not touch the bottom line of the company being claimed against.
      Explaining sound science to a Jury of laypeople can be a waste of time as many do not understand standards of proof and if there is even a small chance of a causal connection, Juries have been known to go with “the little guy”.
      Science, facts and Court Rooms often have little relationship with reality and commonsense.
      What you often do not see is the end result of the appeal where the original defendant wins and costs are awarded against the claimant.
      Even with a “no win, no fee” arrangement, the unsuccessful claimant may find that they have to pay the costs of Court and those of the defendant.
      “Huge” payouts rarely translate into much in the pocket of the claimant as their winning Legal team will often take in excess of 5o% of the Award. Plus, in cases involving medical injury or illness, the Claimant then has to pay all costs of treatment and rehabilitation. Both to-date and future.
      Yes. that applies even when the treatment has been provided through the Australian free health system.

    • 0

      well perhaps in the old days Rosret when they weren’t trying to kill us off, and they were still ppl friendly, now they are sticking so many nasties into everything we use now, what are we supposed to become scientist so we can help our selves>?
      I’m just stunned we must be over populated it seems its the going trend to cut down on the population!!

    • 0

      Why are people complacent about inoculation? Because they have never seen first hand the horror of epidemic breakouts.

      Why have they never seen these horrors? Because of inoculation.

      You do not have to particularly bright to realize this, but it seems some are not particularly bright an their best day. If my grandchild suffered because some thoughtless idiot refused to vaccinate their child I would make it my mission to destroy their lives in court.

      Can one of these geniuses please tell me how many children have died in the last century of inoculation related illness compared to those who have died because of preventable illness that could have been prevented by inoculation?

  4. 0

    Asbestos comes in several forms for example the serpentine or snake like fibres that are less harmful than the needle like fibres that cause mesothelioma. In both cases you have to inhale the fibres to get a disease called asbestosis that may lead to a lung cancer that has a clear epidemiological association with asbestos. Getting asbestos on the skin is as harmful as getting sand on the skin. If you inhale sand (silica) you can get silicosis that can also lead to lung cancer.
    The trouble with “newspaper science” is that the general population only gets half the story. That is the reason our local Council shut a beach because a piece of asbestos cement was discovered. Men in disposable overalls were sent to save the scared rate payers. A cut foot was probably the only risk involved, indeed the sand was probably more of a hazard.

    • 0

      I thought the “needle like fibres that cause mesothelioma” in asbestos could easily penetrate the skin. Why else do asbestos removers wear full-body protective suits?

    • 0

      Janran many a housewife has died from mesothelioma because they did their husband’s laundry and inhaled it as the clothes were flicked into the air. That is why it is so important not to get it on the clothes.
      There are no safe level of asbestos so the full-body suits are disposed of very carefully.
      – yes,*Imagine* – this is newspaper science.

    • 0

      Janran, the number of “housewives” dying from mesothelioma is miniscule, and *Imagine* is right that there is a lot of scared but ill-informed people out there terrified of Asbestos. It takes an awful lot over a long time to get Asbestosis, and mesothelioma can be caused by a number of materials other than Asbestos. So much misinformation.

      The white suit thing is ridiculous, as the ONLY proven pathway for Asbestos is via the mouth to the lung. You need a lot of asbestos on your clothes to warrant a suit. Hard to achieve that these days – no mining or manufacturing.

      As an Asbestos Assessor, I wear a proper mask especially when dealing with Amphibole (blue or brown) Asbestos, but picking up a few bits of fibro? no need.

      That said, “As low as reasonably achievable” is a good aim. Same as weed poisons; take care when handling.

    • 0

      Janran, the number of “housewives” dying from mesothelioma is miniscule, and *Imagine* is right that there is a lot of scared but ill-informed people out there terrified of Asbestos. It takes an awful lot over a long time to get Asbestosis, and mesothelioma can be caused by a number of materials other than Asbestos. So much misinformation.

      The white suit thing is ridiculous, as the ONLY proven pathway for Asbestos is via the mouth to the lung. You need a lot of asbestos on your clothes to warrant a suit. Hard to achieve that these days – no mining or manufacturing.

      As an Asbestos Assessor, I wear a proper mask especially when dealing with Amphibole (blue or brown) Asbestos, but picking up a few bits of fibro? no need.

      That said, “As low as reasonably achievable” is a good aim. Same as weed poisons; take care when handling.

    • 0

      Interesting you would say that in your line of business, Janus. Our company had to pay an extra $600 000 on their buildings cost because they found a very suspect slither of Asbestos (and no more). The workers all geared up for weeks on end and received a higher pay rate per hour.

  5. 0

    is there a link between rental housing and cancer ( repairs to asbestos walls etc )

    • 0

      No there is not.

      Worrying about cancer might give you cancer.

      Asbestos is wall sheeting etc will not cause a problem until you decide to sand it cut it or smash it to pieces in a fury because they kicked you out of your rental housing.

    • 0

      HOW do we know that for sure Janus, your assuming! i suppose, many housing commision houses are rented these days in the grab for more money out of the system? and who knows if there is some in there.
      then if its not cleaned properly and precautions taken, it could make you feel sick!

  6. 0

    Talcum powder contains silicone, which can be deadly.

    • 0

      Norma, it would be a major discovery if silicone was found to be deadly. Silicone does use silicon in large molecules to create an extremely robust stable product that is used widely in medicine. Including implants such as prosthetic testicles.
      There should be no silicone in any talcum powder product as it does not occur naturally.
      Silicon, which may be what you are thinking of, is one of the most common elements and we are essentially immersed in it in everyday life. Common household dust is an oxide of silicon and is quite benign. Occupational exposure can cause respiratory problems, largely from enclosing natural cell functions.
      Talc is mined and contains little if any silica in deposits that are destined for human use.

    • 0

      Couldabeen. I stand corrected. Silicon. I have a friend whose husband died from silicosis.

    • 0

      Silicon is also associated with Lupus. I would imaging there a lot of other more sinister products with silicon than Talc.

  7. 0

    Every house built before the 1980’s contained asbestos. The eave sheets, wall linings in wet areas, behind the wall tiles. Fine as long as you leave it alone.

  8. 0

    I have to say I find any connection between baby powder and ovarian cancer very hard to believe. Consider the millions of babies who have been doused in the stuff, not to mention the many millions of women who have used it over many years and never contracted the cancer and the many hundreds of thousands of women over the years who have contracted the cancer and never used the baby powder.

    I can’t help wondering what Ms Echeverria was doing with the powder, how much she was using and exactly where she was putting it! And WHY?

    • 0

      and probably what you should be asking who was making it, and where was it being made and how much of the ingredient was changed. guaranteed, they would not have listed that on the product lol.
      As i said earlier i had some that was left over from when it was made in australia, and i had some new stuff. I had broken out in a rash, and was using it nilly willy where i needed it. and it didn’t seem to be helping what so ever.
      then i started using the old product and i certainly didn’t seem to suffer as much?? so go figure?

  9. 0

    Galileo was “condemned” by a (religious) court for heretically postulating that the earth revolved around the sun. Application of talc on the body may or not be a direct cause of cancer, but a civil law court cannot absolutely prove it, only medical science can do that. Mind you I wouldn’t inhale or consume it or put it inside my body, which possibly is what happened to this poor woman.

  10. 0

    I still have talcum powder when it was being made in australia, so i finished up using that, and i went to the other stuff that was newly bought. and all i got was more irration, so i threw that away, after a friend had said it had caused cancer in many,so what in the hells going on in this world. the chemical companies are trying to kill us>>??

    • 0

      it would be unusual for talc to cause skin irritation on unbroken healthy skin. The scent used may have been a factor, but even then that would’ve been added in parts per thousand proportions.
      Globally no studies have found a consistent indicator that the use of talc causes cancer. Your friend needs to go back to the source of that claim and have it validated.
      By and large the “chemical” companies have no nefarious intent with their products. After all, the ice cream and butter factories could be termed “chemical” companies. Admittedly, sugar could be termed a potentially nasty chemical. Salt is out there on it’s own when you see what it can do to your car.

    • 0

      and yes that might be true in parts Couldabeen, but then we don’t really know what chemical companies get up too i mean we don’t scrutinise their daily moves, nor work there, and they aren’t up front, they are all about money making!!
      And WEll look at how many diabetics there are in the world today, So we should be asking the question. HOW come, whats gone awry?
      Look at Monsanto, where i lived as a child, that Factory was just over the other side of the river!

      and that firm still causing a stir no matter where they go.
      But you know what a friend of mine who used to play near the river, is very ill with a brain tumor, which she had to have cut out, and still living but a very sick woman.
      And these days more and more cancers are killing ppl. Is this how they depopulate?

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