Talcum powder comes from the mineral talc, which contains elements including oxygen, silicon, and magnesium.
When turned to powder, the mineral is very much capable of absorbing moisture and even reduces friction, allowing the skin to remain dry and even prevent rashes from developing. Talc is a commonly used ingredient in cosmetic products, including facial, baby, and adult body powder products.
Talc and Cancer
When talc is in its natural form, it contains asbestos, which is a substance that has been popular for causing cancers that are related to the lungs whenever it is inhaled. But because of this discovery, the talcum powders that we use in our homes are free from the substance. Nevertheless, there are still several health dangers associated with the use of talcum powder, including:
1. Lung Cancer: While it is true that talcum powder that we use today don’t have asbestos anymore, there are still people who are at risk for developing lung cancer as well as other respiratory diseases upon inhaling talc-based products. These people include millers and talc miners who can also be exposed to substances, such as radon when they are underground.
2. Ovarian Cancer: For many years, talcum powder has been greatly associated with ovarian cancer. The risk is greater when the powder particles are applied on condoms, diaphragms, sanitary napkins, and directly around the genital area.
The particles will travel from the vagina to the uterus to the fallopian tubes until they reach the ovaries. There have been quite a number of studies in which talcum powder and ovarian cancer are linked to each other, even though the findings are still mixed in other research. Some studies claim that the risk of a woman developing the cancer is rather small, but since talc is in many products, it is important to understand that the risk is great.
3. Other Cancers: While there are no direct links with other cancers, there is one study that suggests talcum powder can increase risk of developing endometrial or uterine cancer. This is primarily common in women who are past their menopausal stage. There are also limited studies that saw the possible relationship between talc exposure and other cancers, including stomach cancer.
Expert agencies warn consumers that talc may be carcinogenic. Although there is lack of data, inhaled talc that does not contain asbestos is considered safe for humans. However, limited evidence says that talc-based powder can cause cancer, especially when used for perineal or genital hygiene.