Talcum Powder Risks

Exposure to talc, a core ingredient in talcum powder and certain deodorants and cosmetic products, is linked to several types of cancer. You can lower your cancer risk by avoiding talc-based products and opting instead for cornstarch-based alternatives.

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Talcum Powder Risks Overview

Talc is a silicate mineral that occurs naturally in the ore of metamorphic rock. As the softest mineral on Earth, talc is often mined for its wide variety of commercial applications. It can be found in everything from paint and plastics to body powders and cosmetics.

In spite of its wide usage, research has shown that prolonged exposure to talc can pose a significant threat to a person’s overall health and wellness.

Women may be exposed to talc particles in baby powder or other talc-based cosmetic products such as eye shadow, blush, foundation or lipstick. Women who used talcum powder in their genital area over the course of several years have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer later on. There have also been cases of uterine and stomach cancer.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) contends that men may be exposed to talc particles in talc mines or processing mills. Miners who have breathed in talc particles while on the job have been diagnosed with lung cancer.

Talc product maker Johnson & Johnson in April 2023 offered $8.9 billion to settle scores of lawsuits blaming its products for causing cancer in users. If the proposed settlement gets a judge’s stamp of approval, it will go down in U.S. history as one of the largest product liability settlements of all time.

Diseases Caused by Talcum Powder

Prolonged talc exposure and cancer are have been linked through decades of research and new lawsuits.

Over the last several years, talc has been associated with cases of:

  • Ovarian cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Uterine cancer
  • Stomach cancer

Though there are several different illnesses that can result from prolonged exposure to talc, the major health concerns associated with the mineral are ovarian and lung cancer.

Ovarian Cancer

Instances of ovarian cancer caused by talc occur when women apply talc-based powder to their genital area. In cases like these, the microscopic powder particles enter the vagina, travel through the uterus and fallopian tubes and become lodged in the ovaries. Over time, these talc particles can harden and formulate tumors, causing the development of ovarian cancer.

Some early warning signs of ovarian cancer include:

  • Bloating
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Menstrual cycle problems
Did you know?

Fortunately, if ovarian cancer is detected early in its development, the 5-year survival rate can be as high as 90%. That said, less than 20% of women with ovarian cancer detect the disease in the early stages.

Researchers have sometimes referred to ovarian cancer as a “silent killer” because symptoms may not present themselves until the disease is in its advanced stages. If ovarian cancer is not caught early, a patient’s survival rate is very low.

Lung Cancer

When it comes to the association between lung cancer and talc, talc miners and millers are most at risk. While working alongside talc in processing factories and mines, some workers may breathe in microscopic talc particles.

Similar to how women may get ovarian cancer from talc particles lodging into the ovaries, lung cancer can be caused by talc particles becoming lodged in the lungs or the lining of the lungs.

The signs of lung cancer can vary greatly, but they include:

  • Chest pain
  • Coughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Sudden weight loss

As with most cancers, the key to beating lung cancer is early detection. While lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States among women and men, the ACS contends that most cases of lung cancer could be prevented with less exposure to smoke (including secondhand smoke) and other environmental toxins such as talc and radon.

Talc Exposure

In weighing the risks of talc, exposure time is a significant factor in talc-related cancers. Individuals who are only exposed to talc for a short period of time are much less likely to develop a talc-related cancer in the long term. However, those who have been in repeated contact with talc over a period of several years may increase their cancer risk dramatically.

Did you know?

People can dramatically decrease their risk for talc-related ovarian and lung cancer by reducing their exposure to talc and avoiding talc-based products.

Limit Your Risks of Talc-Related Illness

Given the risks, some cosmetics and sanitary powders are not made with talc, with manufacturers opting for other materials that do not have well-established cancer risks. Many alternative baby powders, for instance, use cornstarch instead of talc.

There are a number of cosmetics and deodorants that also use alternative materials. These materials still provide the moisture absorbance, anti-caking and anti-friction properties for which talc is known.

Avoiding products that use talc as a core ingredient can help to lower your risk of developing cancer significantly. If you have used talc-based products in the past, it is crucial that you pay close attention to your body and any early symptoms of cancer that may arise.

If you believe that you are displaying symptoms of ovarian or lung cancer, you should see a doctor immediately for a full evaluation.

Next Steps

Visiting your doctor and getting regular screenings for cancer is vital. If you have been using talcum powder regularly and are now worried about your health, visit a healthcare provider immediately. Your doctor can help you to determine your risks, regardless of whether or not you are showing early symptoms of the disease.

If you have been diagnosed with ovarian or lung cancer and you and/or your doctor(s) believe the disease was caused by talc, you may be eligible for compensation.

Our skilled and knowledgeable team is standing by, waiting to help victims of talcum powder cancer get the answers they deserve. Get in touch today by calling (866) 463-9532 or by using the form below.

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  1. American Cancer Society. (2018, April 11). Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer. Retrieved January 13, 2019, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/ovarian-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-and-symptoms
  2. Baulkman, J. (2016, March 06). The Chances Talcum Powder Will Lead To Ovarian Cancer. Retrieved January 13, 2019, from https://www.medicaldaily.com/talcum-powder-ovarian-cancer-risk-factors-376717
  3. Fickenscher, L. (2018, December 15). Parents urged to avoid talc after baby powder scare. Retrieved January 13, 2019, from https://nypost.com/2018/12/14/parents-urged-to-avoid-talc-after-baby-powder-scare/
  4. Johnson & Johnson. “Johnson & Johnson Subsidiary LTL Management LLC (“LTL”) Re-Files for Voluntary Chapter 11 to Equitably Resolve All Current and Future Talc Claims.” Retrieved from: https://www.jnj.com/ltl-update. Accessed on April 21, 2023.
  5. Rabin, R. C. (2018, December 14). What Is Talc, Where Is It Used and Why Is Asbestos a Concern? Retrieved January 13, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/14/business/talc-asbestos-powder-facts.html
  6. Zuckerman, D., & Shapiro, D. (2018, December 21). Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer. Retrieved January 13, 2019, from https://www.center4research.org/talcum-powder-ovarian-cancer/
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