There has been a lot of buzz concerning Talcum Powder and potential dangers as a carcinogen. The jury is still out as to how significant the threat, but there is cause for concern.
Talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral made up mainly of the elements magnesium and silicon plus oxygen. As a powder, it absorbs moisture well and helps cut down on friction, making it useful for keeping skin dry and helping to prevent rashes. It is widely used in cosmetic products such as baby powder and adult body and facial powders.
In its natural form, some talc contains asbestos, a substance known to cause cancers in and around the lungs when inhaled. Even talc that is “asbestos free” is often mined where there is asbestos.
Several national and international agencies study substances in the environment to determine if they can cause cancer. (A substance that causes cancer or helps cancer grow is called a carcinogen.) The American Cancer Society looks to these organizations to evaluate the risks based on evidence from laboratory, animal, and human research studies.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is part of the World Health Organization (WHO). Its major goal is to identify causes of cancer.
- IARC classifies talc that contains asbestos as “carcinogenic to humans.”
- Based on the lack of data from human studies and on limited data in lab animal studies, IARC classifies inhaled talc not containing asbestos as “not classifiable as to carcinogenicity in humans.”
- Based on limited evidence from human studies of a link to ovarian cancer, IARC classifies the perineal (genital) use of talc-based body powder as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
Until more information is gathered, you may consider eliminating the use of talc for yourself and your baby. One alternative is to look for a cornstarch alternative.