The medical community has known for decades that asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma. Only recently, though, have experts associated this rare cancer to using talc cosmetics.
A new study provides more clarity into how mesothelioma develops this way.
The American Journal of Industrial Medicine published their findings last week. The report included an analysis of 75 people with mesothelioma whose “only known exposure to asbestos” was from tainted talcum powder in cosmetics.
This study is the largest one focusing just on mesothelioma developing from the use of talc products. The documented number of talc-caused mesothelioma cases in the United States is now 110.
If you have mesothelioma and ever used talc-based products — such as Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder, among many other items — contact our staff. You may have a legal claim for your diagnosis.
Our patient advocates (Jenna Campagna and Carl Jewett) can get you in touch with a legal expert. You can reach either of them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Talc and Mesothelioma: Women Most Affected
The study results show which demographics (gender and age) are most likely to get mesothelioma from talc products.
Of these 75 people with mesothelioma, 64 were female and 11 were male. This discrepancy is quite different from the usual mesothelioma stats, as males comprise around 75% of all cases.
The explanation could be simple: Females are more likely to use cosmetics, either on themselves or others. Specific types of makeup, body and baby powders, and other talc products are more popular among females.
Even if they’re not using these items for themselves, they could be using it on their children. They’re still close to the asbestos dust mixed in the talcum powder, and they can inhale or swallow airborne fibers.
Other noteworthy gender stats from the study are below:
- There were 50 cases of pleural mesothelioma, with 41 (82%) being female and nine (18%) being male.
- There were 25 cases of peritoneal mesothelioma, with 22 (88%) being female and three (12%) being male.
- Males were three times more likely to get pleural mesothelioma (75% of male cases) than peritoneal mesothelioma (25% of male cases).
- Females were nearly twice more likely to get pleural mesothelioma (65%) than peritoneal mesothelioma (35%).
Two of the individuals analyzed had both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma, which is a rare combination. One patient (a female) had pericardial mesothelioma, and one male had testicular mesothelioma. Both types of the cancer are extremely rare, accounting for less than 1% of cases.
Younger People at an Increased Risk
While mesothelioma can affect anyone regardless of age, the vast majority of patients are in their sixties, seventies and eighties. Few mesothelioma patients are younger than age 50, and it’s rare for someone younger than age 45 to have this disease.
The researchers notably found that talc-caused mesothelioma can affect a much younger age group:
- Of the 75 people examined in this study, 12 were younger than age 45.
- The youngest pleural mesothelioma patient was 24 years old, and their estimated latency period was 24 years. They were exposed as a newborn baby.
- The youngest peritoneal mesothelioma patient was 14 years old. Their latency period was 14 years, meaning they were also exposed as a newborn.
The increased risk for young people could be attributed to numerous causes. First, some of the patients may have been exposed as babies or children when their parents used talc-based baby powder. They also may have used makeup and skincare powders throughout their pre-teen, teenage and young adult years.
How Mesothelioma Develops From Using Talc Cosmetics
At the end of the 20th century, experts connected asbestos exposure to specific occupational settings, such as construction or insulation. Asbestos was used for decades as a fire-resistant, protective substance in many construction components (shingles, floor tiles, ceiling tiles, insulation, pipes, electrical wiring and more).
Only recently, though, have experts tied together asbestos exposure and using talc cosmetics.
Talc and asbestos are linked together in many ways. They’re both naturally occurring minerals, and they often exist near one another in the earth’s soil. Talc mines often include asbestos, so the two often mix.
Talc is grinded into a powder substance — called talcum powder — which is the main talc ingredient in many cosmetics. This powder can include loose asbestos fibers that broke from their source and attached to talc.
These fibers are microscopic, so they’re difficult to detect when turning talc into talcum powder.
Four of the individuals in the study either worked as barbers or cosmetologists, or they had a family member who worked in these settings. Talc is an ingredient in some shaving powders. Even soap, toothpaste, chewing gum and drug tablets can include talc as an ingredient.
Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder is the most notable cosmetic product linked to mesothelioma. The company faces thousands of mesothelioma lawsuits from Americans who used the powder and years later developed the cancer.
Show Sources & Author
- Malignant mesothelioma following repeated exposures to cosmetic talc: A case series of 75 patients. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. Retrieved from:
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ajim.23106. Accessed: 03/18/2020.
- Mesothelioma Associated With the Use of Cosmetic Talc. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31609780?dopt=Abstract. Accessed: 03/18/2020.
- Asbestos in commercial cosmetic talcum powder as a cause of mesothelioma in women. International Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25185462?dopt=Abstract. Accessed: 03/18/2020.