You may have heard about asbestos before but have never thought that it actually exists in your talcum powder. Apparently, it’s possible for that innocent-looking container of talcum powder to also have an unhealthy amount of asbestos.

But, why is it so dangerous to have asbestos in your baby’s talcum powder? Read on to find out why.

What is Talc?

Talc is a kind of mineral that can be mined from the ground. It’s usually used for personal care as talcum powder. It is prized for its ability to absorb sweat, leaving the user feeling drier and more refreshed.

The brand most Western people may be familiar with is Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder because it has successfully been marketed to the public, especially for use by mothers on their children. However, the talc you are using could be tainted with asbestos as well.

What’s Asbestos?

Asbestos is a carcinogen often found in the same mining areas as talc. The reason there’s a danger for cross-contamination of your talc with asbestos is that the former could already be naturally mixed with asbestos even before any mining is done.

Since asbestos is carcinogenic, having traces of it in your baby powder may cause the user to develop some forms of cancer.

The Connection Between Talc and Asbestos

A lawsuit was even filed against the Johnson & Johnson company by a group of women who developed ovarian cancer. The allegations were that the asbestos in talcum powder directly caused these women to develop ovarian cancer because they used the baby powder for feminine hygiene. In addition, the women claimed that they may also inhale the baby powder as they used it.

Naturally, the Johnson & Johnson company denied the claims about asbestos being present in their Baby Powder product. But, the company lost after a jury ruled that the women were justified in their complaint so the plaintiffs were granted $4.69 billion in compensation for damages.

The Johnson and Johnson company has been selling its Baby Powder product to the public for decades and they’ve been very successful in that. The product has been used for all that time for baby care, despite pediatricians warning parents that the product can be dangerous to their children.

The risk cited by pediatricians is that baby powder might be inhaled by the infant, which can lead to coughing and choking, serious respiratory illnesses, lung diseases when inhaled, and even chronic diseases. That’s why pediatricians don’t recommend using talcum powder since it’s not that necessary for baby care. Do take note that the presence of asbestos was not yet cited by pediatricians.

Other Cancers That May Develop Due to Asbestos

If you’ve sustained exposure to asbestos, here are the types of cancers that you may be at risk of:

  • Pharyngeal Cancer – Pharyngeal cancer develops when you constantly inhale asbestos through the air.

This cancer of the pharynx, or windpipe, takes a long time to develop but is deadly.

  • Laryngeal Cancer This is another type of cancer that can develop through constant inhalation of asbestos through the air. But, this cancer affects your larynx or voice box instead.

The principle is the same: the asbestos fibers come into your mouth through breathing or swallowing, over a long period of time. The risk goes up if you also tend to smoke and drink liquor.

  • Lung Cancer Since the biggest risk for cancer is when asbestos is inhaled or swallowed through the air, it’s already one step closer to contamination of the lungs with asbestos particles since all air intake winds up going into the lungs.
  • Mesothelioma – This is another type of cancer that may develop through exposure to asbestos. In fact, it usually develops almost all the time from asbestos exposure.

The cancer is in the lining of certain internal organs, which is one reason it’s difficult to treat once it starts.

  • Stomach Cancer and Colon Cancer – These two forms of cancer are interrelated since some researchers believe that the asbestos can be found in the water supply of a neighborhood or community.

Takeaway

Many parents still believe that baby powder is safe for use on their children, even though there’s already evidence that some bottles of baby powder do contain asbestos. This is the danger since not everyone is well informed about the connection between talc and asbestos.

You and your spouse, as well as others in your household, should switch to the relatively safe cornstarch alternative instead. This will help everyone in your home to avoid developing painful cancers that can be difficult and costly to treat.

Cite this article as:
Editorial Staff, "Health Awareness: Is There Dangerous Asbestos In Talcum Powder?," in Medicalopedia, May 5, 2020, [Permalink: https://www.medicalopedia.org/8824/health-awareness-is-there-dangerous-asbestos-in-talcum-powder/].