Recently courts in the US required Johnson & Johnson (J & J) to pay compensation to 22 women who claimed J & J-made talc powder contained asbestos which later caused ovarian cancer in them. In fact, six of the 22 women have died from the cancer.
J & J’s defeat at the hearing raised concerns about the use of talcum powder throughout the world. Is it true that talcum powder can cause cancer?
To answer this question, first, what must be known is the origin of talcum powder. Talcum powder comes from soft minerals which are also called talk.
Quoted by IFL Science, talc mine is often close to asbestos, therefore, it is not uncommon for talk to be exposed to asbestos. According to the American Cancer Society, asbestos can indeed cause cancer, especially if inhaled or swallowed.
Studies conducted on asbestos miners show that breathing asbestos fibers can increase the risk of lung cancer. In addition to lung cancer, people who are exposed to asbestos can also develop mesothelioma, a cancer that attacks the mesothelium, a layer that covers organs in the human body such as the lungs, stomach and testicles.
Too much inhalation of asbestos can also cause lung disease called asbestosis, a disease that causes sores in the lungs so that sufferers have difficulty breathing.
Then, is all talk exposed by asbestos?
Please note that not all talk is exposed to asbestos. Talk that can be used for cosmetics is only talk which is proven to be asbestos-free or asbestos-free to guarantee its safety when used as cosmetics or other body care products.
Talc is used in cosmetics because of its ability to absorb sweat and reduce friction on the skin so that the skin is not easily scratched. Therefore, the use of talk is not only limited to baby powder, but also to other cosmetic products such as blush and mascara.
In September 2009 to 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US conducted a survey of several cosmetic and body care products, including several large brands sold in Indonesia such as Johnson’s, Urban Decay, Clinique, Maybelline, and Revlon. As a result, none of the products from these brands contain asbestos.
In addition, according to the American Cancer Society, studies conducted on the effects of talc on ovarian cancer tend to be small until none at all.
In the UK, Cancer Research UK doubts the connection between talc powder and cancer. On its website, the agency said that although there was a study that said it could increase ovarian cancer risk by 33 percent, the study had a weakness because most study participants could not remember how much or often they used talk on their genitals.
The institute insists that using talcum powder, whether using it directly on the genitals or sprinkled on contraceptives such as diaphragms or condoms, will not increase the likelihood of ovarian cancer.