When you’re shopping for self care or personal hygiene products, you would obviously want what’s best for your health. So, what could be safer than talcum powder meant for babies? Scarcely a thing you’d think, but it turns out that talcum powder may pose a health risk to women.
We recently learned about this shocking fact thanks to litigation filed against Johnson & Johnson by women afflicted with ovarian cancer. But is there any truth to these allegations or are the lawsuits simply a way to make a quick buck?
The Talcum Powder Cancer Connection
“Despite the lack of consensus, several studies show a connection between talcum powder use & ovarian cancer risk – it is theoretically possible for talc to make its way to the ovaries”
Johnson & Johnson vociferously denied all of the charges, but it lost the first lawsuit in February 2016 and the second in May, having been ordered to cough up a total of USD 127 million.
As it turns out, the company has also been in the spotlight for marketing baby shampoos with known carcinogens, so this comes as no surprise. Sadly, most of us remain blissfully unaware about these lawsuits and Johnson & Johnson’s remains one of the most trusted brands here.
When we look at the scientific evidence to find a connection between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer, there is no consensus, but several studies do point towards a cancer risk. However, it is worth noting that the findings were strong enough to earn the company a rap in court.
According to some experts, talc could be a risk factor for cancer as it is theoretically possible for it to travel through the vagina to the ovaries, causing inflammation – ovarian inflammation is known to increase the risk of cancer.
The Big Cover-up
“More shocking than the possibility that baby powder can cause ovarian cancer in women is the revelation that Johnson & Johnson was privy to this information for decades and yet they kept marketing the product for women!”
While the scope of talcum powder as a cancer causing agent is nowhere near that of tobacco, the cover-up reeks with the same corporate stink. Talcum powder or baby powder has long been marketed at women too, as a personal hygiene product to control body odor and moisture, especially in the privates.
More shocking than the possibility that baby powder can cause ovarian cancer in women is the revelation that Johnson & Johnson was privy to this information for decades and yet they kept marketing the product for women! Yes, a company memo published internally in 1992 states clearly in point number 2 – “Negative publicity from the health community on talc (inhalation, dust, negative doctor endorsement, cancer linkage) continues.”
Health Risks Of Talcum Powder
When looking at the risks of talcum powder it should also be pointed out the product has often been laced with asbestos, a known carcinogen. Researchers even found talcum in some of the ovarian tumors that they dissected back in the 1970s. While asbestos may now be a banned ingredient, product safety still remains questionable.
In case you have been using talcum powder, don’t panic just yet. As we mentioned, the evidence is not conclusive, but consumers have a right to information, so that you can make better informed decisions. Besides, if you knew that there was a risk of cancer (conclusive or not) from a particular product, you would think twice before using it.
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