Update: This article was published in August of 2022 but updated January 6, 2023 with more information and a step-by-step guide on how talc causes cancer.
Talc is a naturally occurring mineral that is used in many cosmetic and hygienic products. One of the most dangerous aspects of talc is how it can be contaminated with asbestos, a known cancer-causing mineral. Talc is mined in the same places where asbestos exists. When talc particles are mixed with asbestos, they can be even more dangerous.
Talc has been used in cosmetics for many years, but it wasn’t until recently that scientists began to understand the link between talc and cancer, leading consumers to wonder: How do talc products cause cancer?
The short answer is asbestos fibers can become lodged in the lining of your lungs, heart, or abdomen and over time cause inflammation and genetic damage that leads to mesothelioma. But there’s a lot more to it than that.
Steps to Talc Causing Cancer
Below are the steps to how talc causes cancer:
- Talc is mined for use in face and skin powders, such as baby powder. Asbestos exists nearby talc and can be mixed together.
- Talc is turned into a powder, which disturbs asbestos and creates fragments of sharp fibers.
- Consumers who apply talcum powder to their face or skin — or their child’s skin — release those sharp fibers into the air. They are inhaled or ingested.
- Talc and asbestos particles can travel through the body and become lodged in the lungs or other organs.
- The talc and asbestos particles can cause inflammation of tissue cells. The tissue cells mutate and turn into cancerous cells, not dying when they should and multiplying into new mutated cells too often.
- The cells clump together and form a mass of diseased tissue called a tumor.
This is how talcum powders like Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder cause cancer.
For some cancers, the process takes just a few years. For others, it can take up to 50 years.
For mesothelioma, the process takes 20-50 years because the asbestos fibers don’t cause the genetic changes right away.
Johnson & Johnson is just one of many talcum powder products that can cause cancer.
Is Talc Safe?
There is a lot of debate surrounding whether Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and other talc items are safe to use. At least “one lot” of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder was recalled due to asbestos contamination, which made it clear to consumers that the product was unsafe while it was made with talcum powder.
One study found that women who used talc on their groin area had a 33% higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. Another study found that workers who were exposed to talc at work had an increased risk of lung cancer. Women were the primary people who used Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and other talcum powders.
It should be noted that these studies are far from conclusive. In fact, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified talc as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
So, what’s the verdict? Is talc safe or not? If you’re concerned about the safety of talc, you may want to avoid using it.
Talc and Mesothelioma
In recent years, talc has been linked to multiple cancers, such as ovarian cancer, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that develops in the thin layer of tissue encapsulating chest or abdominal organs.
The only cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. While most cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in people who have worked with asbestos, or were victims of occupational asbestos exposure, there are also a small number of cases that occur in people who may have unknowingly been exposed to asbestos in their own home. Talc and clay products contaminated with asbestos can also be a source of exposure.
The most well-known talc product linked to asbestos and cancer is Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder. The pharmaceutical corporation has faced years of public controversy and asbestos lawsuits due to asbestos in its talc.
If you have any concerns about talc or how it can affect your health, contact our registered nurse, Karen Ritter, at firstname.lastname@example.org. She can help answer questions related to your health or possible asbestos exposure.
Frequently Asked Questions About Types of Cancer Caused By Talc Products?
- What is talcum cancer?
- What is talcum powder made from?
- How does talcum powder cause cancer?
Talcum cancer refers to any type of cancer caused by the use of talcum powder products. Talcum powder products have been linked to many types of cancer, such as mesothelioma, lung cancer and ovarian cancer.
Talcum powder is made from talc, a naturally occurring mineral found in the earth. Talc is the softest mineral on earth and can be crushed into a fine white dust. Once crushed, talc becomes talcum powder, and it’s bottled up for distribution and sales.
Talcum powder is made of talc, which is often contaminated with asbestos. Exposure to asbestos in any capacity can lead to serious health problems. Asbestos is composed of tiny, sharp fibers that can become lodged in the lining of the chest or abdomen if inhaled or ingested. Once asbestos fibers become stuck in the body, they can cause an infection that can develop into cancer.
Sources & Author
Talcum Powder & Ovarian Cancer. Drugwatch. Retrieved from: https://www.drugwatch.com/talcum-powder/ovarian-cancer/#:~:text=33%25%20Higher%20Risk&text=Women%20who%20said%20they%20regularly,Powder%20or%20Shower%20to%20Shower. Accessed: 07/29/22.
Occupational Exposure to Talc Increases the Risk of Lung Cancer: A Meta-Analysis of Occupational Cohort Studies. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5610800/. Accessed: 07/29/22.
Talcum Powder and Cancer. American Cancer Society. Retrievd from: https://www.cancer.org/healthy/cancer-causes/chemicals/talcum-powder-and-cancer.html#:~:text=Its%20major%20goal%20is%20to,as%20to%20carcinogenicity%20in%20humans.%E2%80%9D. Accessed: 07/29/22.
Sources & Author