Nothing is more refreshing than a warm shower followed by a little sweet smelling powder. Whether you use a generic baby powder or a name brand perfumed brand, you probably have never considered that you could be putting yourself at risk for cancer.
Powder in the United States used to contain asbestos; asbestos is a substance that is known to cause cancer, especially in the lungs, but talcum powder has not contained asbestos since the 1970s. Many powders do contain talc, a natural derived mineral made up of magnesium, silicon and oxygen. Talc is used in many adult and baby powders as well as facial powders. Recently, scientists have begun investigating whether women who regularly apply powder to their genital area have an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
In October of 2013, a federal jury found that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn consumers of link between ovarian cancer & talc-based body powder for feminine hygiene products but also determined that the product was not defective without the warning and ruled that Johnson & Johnson was not liable for the plaintiff’s ovarian cancer and therefore awarded no damages.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has requested that Johnson & Johnson as well as other cosmetic companies such as Avon and Proctor & Gamble remove all carcinogens and other toxic chemicals from its baby and adult products. Investigations by state officials continue and while the product may not be removed it is hoped that these cases and consumer boycotts will force manufacturers including John & Johnson to place warning labels on their products.
The American Cancer Society website has published results of some of the research being conducted on the possible link between talcum powder and cancer of the ovary. While studies seem to suggest that the overall increase in risk is small, because talc is used in a variety of products including sanitary and some birth control products, research continues to determine the overall lifetime risk. If you wish to avoid any possibility of increasing your risk you may wish to avoid or limit your exposure to talc based powder and opt instead for cornstarch-based cosmetic products instead.