In recent months, the world has learned a great deal about the link between talc products and mesothelioma. This owes largely to the reports that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that its baby powder contains asbestos. Naturally, Johnson & Johnson denied the reports.
However, a recent study in the American Journal of Medicine may have undercut the health giant’s denials. This study looked at 85 mesothelioma victims and supports the idea that repeated talc use may cause cancer.
Five key takeaways from the study
The study and its authors did more than reinforce the link between cosmetic talcum products and mesothelioma. They also pointed out several notable facts about the use of these talc products:
- 83% of the study’s cancer victims were female. This contrasts with the much higher rate of male victims from industrial asbestos exposure.
- The victims were an average of 11 years younger than expected. This was based on a comparison of their cases to those recorded with the National Cancer Institute.
- The cancers were likely caused by the anthophyllite and tremolite fibers that contaminated the talc.
- The authors felt the results could account for many of the “idiopathic,” or otherwise unexplained, instances of mesothelioma.
- The authors recommended the FDA more strictly regulate–or simply ban–the use of cosmetic talc powders. They pointed out that there is already a range of safer, non-toxic substitutes.
Of course, it’s not just Johnson & Johnson that’s put people at risk. There is a wide range of manufacturers selling cosmetic talc products, and testers constantly find asbestos in these products. In fact, the FDA recently found asbestos in 20% of all the cosmetic talc products they had tested.
Manufacturers may even put children at risk. Testers have found asbestos in crayons, child cosmetics, toy kits and more.
The safest option is to avoid talc completely
As tests continue to find asbestos fibers in talc products, new studies reinforce the ties between talc use and deadly cancers. Since there’s no safe, known level of asbestos exposure, you might not want to gamble your life on talc products. Your safest option is to avoid them altogether.