Talc found in many body powders, cosmetics and other consumer products – is making headlines because of the reported link between talc and cancer.
A recent nearly $ 4.7 billion lawsuit against pharmaceutical and consumer goods companies Johnson & Johnson for Johnson's Johnson baby powder and shower raises questions about talcum powder and its relationship to ovarian cancer.
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Scientists first reported a link between talc and ovarian cancer in 1971 when they discovered powder particles embedded in tumor tissue in the ovaries and cervix. Talcum powder is made of talc, a mineral that consists of several components, including silicon, magnesium, and oxygen.
As a powder, it absorbs moisture and reduces friction, keeps skin dry and prevents rashes. Powder is widely used in cosmetics, including baby powder, adult body powder, face powder, and various other consumer products.
According to the American Cancer Society, some talc in its natural form contains asbestos, a substance known to cause cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, classifies asbestos containing talc as "carcinogenic to humans" and perineal use of powder-based body dust as "possibly carcinogenic to humans".
At the time, the American Cancer Society said it was unclear whether talcum products containing talc increased the risk of cancer. The public notes that studies of private use of talc have shown mixed results, although "there is some evidence that ovarian cancer risk may be increased".