If you're worried or concerned about the possible long-term negative consequences of using talc powder, this article should clear everything up.
In early 2016, the family of an American woman who died of ovarian cancer was awarded a $72 million settlement, on the basis that she had been using a talc powder that did not give any advanced warning of possible side effects.
The woman had been using Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder for over a decade.
The pervading belief was that talc powder can increase the risk of cancer.
The truth however, is a little bit more complicated.
Does Talc Cause Cancer?
The truth is, talc, in its purest and most natural form, can and has been shown to increase the risk of cancer in both men and women.
This has been scientifically and definitively proven to be the result of embedded asbestos in and around talc mineral deposits.
When talc is dug up and mined, its deposits are often located in and around asbestos. And for first half of the 20th century, this asbestos was often times not purged entirely from the talc.
In the 1970's, government regulators made it a requirement for all talc powder (in all cosmetic products), to be entirely, 100% asbestos-free. Stringent quality control measures were brought in (and continue to this day), and as such, asbestos has been thoroughly eliminated from all talc products.
And what about talc itself?
Has it been or is it linked to various types of cancers?
Talc powder has never been linked to any type of cancer in men, despite several well-funded and lengthy studies attempting to prove otherwise.
- According to a lengthy study done in 2015 by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel, talc is absolutely "safe to use in its present practice and use."
- To date, there has never been any study which has definitively linked talc powder usage to increased cancer rates....in men
Talc Powder's Links to Ovarian Cancer in Women
Where is where things get murky.
While talc powder is entirely healthy and does not pose any risk whatsoever in men, the same hasn't been shown to apply towards women.
The problem here, is that there have been conflicting studies.
Some studies have shown no link, and some studies have shown a slight increase in the risk of ovarian cancer in women.
What is thought to happen is that talc powder applied to the genital region sometimes enters through the vagina, and up the fallopian tubes to adversely affect a woman's ovaries.
- The US Centers for Disease Control has not listed any link between talc genital usage in women and ovarian cancer
- A 2014 study done by the US National Institute of Health found no link between genital talc usage and ovarian cancer
- A 2009 study done by Harvard also found no link between prolonged genital talc usage and ovarian cancer
- A 2003 meta-analysis done by the US National Library of Medicine showed a "33% increased risk of ovarian cancer" in women who used talc powder for genital hygienic purposes
To date, there have been no studies which have conclusively proven a link between talc powder usage and increased rates of ovarian cancer.
Should You Quit TAlc Just To Be Safe?
For males, there is simply no need.
Talc is 100% safe to use, as liberally as you like.
For women, you might want to use a non-talc alternative, if you are at all concerned about any increased risk of ovarian cancer in the future.
The good news is that there are several great non-talc alternatives on the market that work almost as good as talc itself.
Most of these products' main ingredient is cornstarch, which is completely safe to use.
The only real downside to cornstarch is that...
- cornstarch based powders don't typically last as long as talc based
- cornstarch based powders often times don't soak up as much moisture as talc based
However, cornstarch based powders are still very good at doing the job that regular talcs do. The only difference is that a talc based powder will go "that extra 10-15%."
Check out our comparison chart to find and compare the best talc and non-talc body powders.