When it comes to personal care products, consumers naturally assume that manufacturers will have their best interests in mind.
However, recent evidence alleging that long-term usage of talcum powder may lead to the development of ovarian cancer, which can sometimes result in death, highlight just how potentially harmful everyday products can be to consumers.
The American Cancer Society lists some concerns related to long-term usage of talcum powder. Numerous studies have been conducted over the years to determine whether links between talcum powder and certain types of cancers are valid. While results are conflicting, some studies show tumor formation in both human and animal subjects when exposed to talc.
Additionally, the World Health Organization categorizes usage of talcum powder for feminine hygiene purposes as potentially carcinogenic (although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not categorize this practice as harmful).
Talc can be found in a number of consumer products, including many cosmetics, due to its inherent properties. As a result, it can be difficult to reduce one’s exposure to talc. There is also a risk of talcum powder being contaminated with asbestos given the possibilities of these substances naturally occurring in close proximity with one another.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also investigated claims of talcum powder and possible asbestos contamination. Based on consumer concern, the agency tested samples from four commercial talc suppliers to determine if asbestos was present in talc-based products.
While the tests returned negative results, the FDA warns that the relatively small sample size does not prove that all talcum powders currently available on the market are free of carcinogens.