Talc is a less popular ingredient these days in baby powder and feminine hygiene products since thousands of women have filed lawsuits against manufacturers like Johnson & Johnson for the alleged link between their talcum-powder based products and ovarian cancer. In addition to its possible cancer links, talcum powder can also act as a skin irritant, despite its reputation for preventing diaper rash. The American Pediatric Association even warns against using baby powder, according to USA Today.
If talcum powder products are so dangerous, why are they still on the shelves?
The American Cancer Society cautions that it’s important to distinguish between talcum powder that contains asbestos and talcum powder that is asbestos-free. Talc with asbestos is a known carcinogen, especially when inhaled. However, this has been known since the 1970s and has been removed from consumer products today. Asbestos-free talc is what is widely used in modern products, but the ACS still warns that evidence of its safety is “less clear.”
Since the jury is still out on asbestos-free talc, talcum powder products are still available for purchase. But as the lawsuits against talcum powder manufacturers increase in number and media attention, the decrease in demand for talcum powder products may result in their removal from the shelves.