Cosmetic Talc May Be Harmful to Your Health

Talc is a mineral used in a variety of consumer products from women's cosmetics to drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is used as an absorbent, an anti-caking agent, to improve the texture of products and to add color.

The talc used in cosmetics and other consumer products is approved for ingested and topical drugs by the FDA and must meet standards developed by the cosmetics industry and U.S. Pharmacopeia, a non-profit organization that tests a variety of topical and ingested consumer products. In the 1970s, the federal government banned the use of asbestos, a cancer-causing fiber, in consumer products.

Despite these safety regulations, some studies have found that the talc used in cosmetics may pose a risk to consumers. The main cause for concern is the resemblance of talc's fibers to asbestos fibers. Asbestos has been linked to respiratory diseases like lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma, a rare cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen.

The FDA and other health experts maintain that talc used in consumer products is safe, though studies have been conducted to determine if cosmetic talc, especially in body powder form like that used on infants, may pose a threat to consumers. So far, the studies have been inconclusive as to whether or not use of talcum powders can be linked to ovarian cancer. Though talc miners experience a higher rate of lung cancer than the rest of the population, no studies have shown that there is any heightened risk of lung cancer among talc users once it is cleared of naturally-occurring asbestos fibers and prepared for consumer use.

One study has made a tentative connection between uterine cancer and the use of body powder near the genitals by postmenopausal women, but experts would like further study of this connection before establishing a link.

The jury is still out on the connection between consumer talc and cancer, so consumers should consider the possible connection between cancer and talcum powder before making the choice to use or consumer talc products. If you or a loved one suspect talc exposure may be tied to a recent cancer diagnosis, please consult an experienced attorney.