Talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral compound constituting magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. It is used for the purpose of absorbing moisture, healing rashes, and reducing friction, making it a requisite component in commercial cosmetic products. However, despite being a common household item for decades, the use of talcum powder has been linked to a host of serious side effects, including cancer. As per the American Cancer Society, talc in its natural form contains asbestos, which is a substance known to cause lung cancer, when inhaled. This is especially alarming considering the fact that talcum powder is also found in baby powder, along with face powders.
Link Between Talcum Powder & Cancer
Apart from being used as an antiperspirant by adults and babies, talcum powder is often patted on babies’ bottoms to help prevent diaper rash. It is also widely used as a feminine hygiene product. These common practices must be stopped immediately, as the risks of using talcum powder have come to light over the past decade. Numerous lawsuits have been filed against leading talcum powder brands, as the use of talc as an intimate female hygiene product has been directly linked to fatal cases of ovarian cancer.
Talcum powder can be deadly even when it is inhaled - when asbestos finds its way into your lungs, the glands lining the bronchial tubes responsible for air circulation produce mucus in massive quantities. Owing to the barb-like construction of asbestos, it clings to the lining of your lungs and hence, is not expelled from your system. Studies of talc miners have pointed towards an increased risk of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases., It is important to note that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies asbestos-containing talc as “carcinogenic to humans.” Due to the various health risks associated with talcum powder, it is best to use it within a limit, and if possible, not at all.
The most common side effects associated with excessive talcum powder use are in the form of mild to severe respiratory problems. Symptoms include:
- internal inflammation
- chronic lung irritation
These side effects can be a serious cause of concern, especially in babies and toddlers. The American Academy of Pediatrics has warned parents against the use of talcum powder for infant care. In adults, some individuals might be more prone to its side effects than others. Resultantly, individuals with sensitive respiratory conditions might find that using talcum powder can trigger asthma attacks or cause severe breathlessness. The longer an individual is exposed to talc, the more chronic the problems shall be in nature.
If you cannot completely do away with using talcum powder, you might want to consider natural alternatives, such as organic corn starch, which is derived from corn kernels, rice starch, or body powders made with purely organic ingredients. You can also consider organic diaper rash creams containing zinc oxide for your baby’s diaper rashes, as they work more effectively, minus any side effects. If you start experiencing respiratory or other problems due to excessive talcum powder use, consult a medical practitioner at the earliest.