We hear it every single day – talc, talcum powder, baby powder and powder. These are the terms we use for the powder that can promote dry nappies and lessen irritation in babies.
And because it feels and smells good, we put on powder daily – not knowing of the risks involved while using it. Lately, Johnson & Johnson was in the news because of their leading product, the Johnson’s Baby Powder. They were sued by their consumers because of an allegation; the complainants said that their baby powder, with prolonged use, can cause ovarian cancer.
Deborah Giannecchini, from St. Louis, was granted $70M by the jury of her peers and Johnson & Johnson had to pay her as a result of the lawsuit filed against them. Deborah stated that by regularly using Johnson’s baby powder, she contracted ovarian cancer.
Stories like these are common. Some people sue Johnson & Johnson but their cases lack sufficient evidence of the allegation and therefore, their lawsuits are closed without any monetary awards. There are plaintiffs though, like Giannecchini, whose evidence is so strong – they are being paid millions by the company.
The determining factor here is the evidence and that is being researched, studied and tested through scientific processes. The jury didn’t give the winning hand to Giannecchini just because they like her – the evidence she presented in court was sufficient and believable. Johnson & Johnson “hid” the fact to the public that talcum powder is a factor in developing ovarian cancer. But scientific experts say that this is not a very strong basis.
Dr. Clarice Weinberg attested that the research linking ovarian cancer and the use of talcum powder in the genital area is a bit inconsistent. She is the Deputy Branch Chief for Biostatistics and Computational Biology at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Johnson & Johnson has always maintained that their baby powder is safe to use. They are planning to appeal the decision of the jury.
Anyway, it’s up to you to decide if you think that talcum powder can cause ovarian cancer or not. Here is an in-depth research for your information.
ALLEGATION – Talcum powder has a cancer-promoting component.
Not true. The composition of talc is magnesium and silicon. It has oxygen too and is a natural product which can lessen chafing and absorb wetness. It does however contain the finest form of MINERAL ASBESTOS.
It is a fact that when we hear the word ASBESTOS, we eagerly jump to conclusion that it’s cancerous. While it is true that ASBESTOS FIBERS can cause lung cancer when inhaled for a really long period of time, one cannot assume that talcum has a cancerous ingredient and that it can cause ovarian cancer, specifically. Anyway, all products in the United States have been free of asbestos since the seventies.
ALLEGATION – Talcum powder is not safe to use since it may be a possible cause for ovarian cancer.
The only way to know for sure if talcum powder can truly cause ovarian cancer is to perform a series of trials. But it is not ethical. How come? If there is a remote possibility that talcum powder can indeed case ovarian tumors, then, no test subject would agree to that. Other tests like small case studies will not be that reliable as there were no standards performed – like how much talcum powder was used on the genital area and so on.
There were also some trials performed on animals with existing cancer tumors in their systems. Reports from some laboratories conclude that talcum powder without asbestos have expedited the growth of the cancer on animals. Some studies, on the other hand, had no such reports which mean that it is inconsistent and inconclusive. These statements came from American Cancer Society.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that ovarian cancer is a fatal type of cancer and it is the leading cause of death for women compared to other reproductive system cancer diseases. It is also the fifth leading type of cancer that ultimately kills a person who has it. At this time, 22,000 women in the United States were diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer is more common in women whose age is above 63 years old. If your family has a history of breast cancer, the risk of you contracting ovarian cancer is also amplified. The BRCA1 genetic alteration can also increase your chances of getting ovarian tumors. As reported by CDC, if you are around 60, if you have never been pregnant and if you had or have endometriosis, these are signs that you may possibly develop ovarian cancer. But this is not absolute. It is just an increased possibility.
To finish off…
International Agency for Research on Cancer says that there is a “possibility” of baby powder to be a cancerous product but they cannot say with 100% certainty that it can really cause ovarian cancer.
Yes, the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly vote against using baby powder on infants even when changing nappies for one simple reason – the talc particles may induce asthma and lung problems in babies. It’s not about ovarian or lung cancer.
Basically it’s your choice. If you fear that baby powder may increase the possibility of developing ovarian cancer, then, don’t use it. You can opt for alternatives like cornstarch powder – there are many brands out in the market which sell this product.