Talc is a soft, naturally occurring mineral used in baby powders, makeup and deodorant. Industrial manufacturers also use talc in products such as ceramics and paint. But, studies link asbestos-contaminated talcum powder to mesothelioma. Some research also links it to ovarian cancer. Johnson & Johnson and other manufacturers face thousands of talcum powder lawsuits.
If you were exposed to industrial talc or used cosmetic talcum powder and developed complications, you may be entitled to compensation.
Talc is a naturally occurring silicate mineral. Companies mine it from rock deposits in the Earth’s crust.
Manufacturers crush, dry and mill it into a fine, soft, white powder called talcum powder. The powder serves as a lubricant and adds softness and shine to products.
Manufacturers use talc as an ingredient in common products such as baby powder, makeup and paint.
But, some studies link it to mesothelioma, ovarian cancer and respiratory problems. Safety concerns led to a rise in talcum powder lawsuits.
People have been using talc as far back as ancient Egypt. Ancient Assyrians and Native Americans also used talc for a variety of purposes.
Talcum powder has cosmetic and industrial uses.
In 1893, Johnson & Johnson released Johnson’s Baby Powder after discovering it could prevent diaper rash.
Then, companies began marketing it to women. They said talc was good for controlling odor and moisture in the genital area.
Industrial talc uses include food processing, ceramics and paints.
Talc’s safety is a hotly contested issue.
Talcum powder manufacturers and suppliers say the powdery mineral used in cosmetic products is highly refined and safe. But a number of studies have linked the use of talcum powder to specific cancers, including ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer says talc contaminated with asbestos is “carcinogenic to humans.” But the agency, which is a division of the World Health Organization, also specifies that asbestos-free talc is “not classifiable as to carcinogenicity in humans.”
The agency has declared use of talc in the genital region as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
While rare, repeated talc inhalation can cause progressive lung inflammation and damage. Babies who ingest or inhale baby powder can also develop talcum powder poisoning, which can be lethal.
Although talc in makeup has not been linked to cancer, it can cause other health problems. Inhalation of face powder can also cause breathing difficulties. Makeup containing talc should never be applied to broken skin because it may cause inflammation or infection.
Asbestos is a cancer-causing substance. Talc and asbestos occur naturally in the earth. In its natural form, some talc contains asbestos.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitors cosmetic products for potential safety problems. But, there is no law that requires cosmetic companies to share their safety information with the FDA.
The FDA does not allow asbestos in talcum powder. But, the agency cannot guarantee that talc products sold in the U.S. are asbestos free.
Some studies and lawsuits link talcum powder contaminated with asbestos to mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart. Asbestos is the main cause of mesothelioma.
People may inhale or swallow talcum powder contaminated with asbestos fibers. It can cause inflammation and scaring. This can lead to mesothelioma.
Several people exposed to industrial and cosmetic talc contaminated with asbestos filed lawsuits. They said contaminated talc caused mesothelioma.
Some medical studies indicate that talc-based powders are associated with ovarian cancer. Women in these studies used talcum powder around the genital area.
One study showed women who use talc have a 20- to 30-percent greater risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Thousands of women with ovarian cancer have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson. They say J&J’s baby powder and Shower to Shower products caused ovarian cancer.
J&J and other manufacturers face millions in talcum powder jury verdicts and settlements.
Some studies link talcum powder use to diseases other than mesothelioma or ovarian cancer.
Health organizations and medical professionals call for additional studies of talc and its safety. Some even warn against its use.
Major manufacturers of talcum powder do not have warning labels on their products. The U.S. government has not acted to remove the powders or add warning labels.
Johnson & Johnson’s talc supplier added warning labels in 2006. J&J has yet to add similar warnings to its products.
J&J labels do caution against talcum powder inhalation. They also say that the powder is for external use only.
Brands with warnings include: Angel of Mine Baby Powder from Dollar Tree and Spring Fresh Powder sold at Walmart.
Cornstarch is the most well-known alternative to talc. Some baby powders are made with cornstarch instead of talc.
The American Cancer Society said there is no evidence linking cornstarch to cancer.
As concerns about the safety of talc grow, some makeup manufacturers are also introducing lines of talc-free cosmetics.
Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.
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