Can baby powder cause cancer?


HARRISBURG, Pa (WHTM) – Concerned moms are wondering if baby powder can cause cancer following Johnson and Johnson shelling out millions in lawsuits.

“Better for baby — Better for you” was the longtime slogan of Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Powder, which was developed in 1893. Company research showed its popularity grew up through the 1970s, in which 70 percent of adults used the product.

In the same decade, health officials discovered that unprocessed talcum powder contains asbestos, which can be linked to cancer when inhaled over a long period of time according to the American Cancer Society [ACS]. J&J subsequently removed asbestos from its products after consumer backlash.

On Tuesday, Johnson and Johnson was ordered by a Missouri jury to pay $55 million to a woman who claims the powder caused her to develop ovarian cancer. In February, J&J was ordered to pay $72 million to an Alabama family after a woman died from a similar claim.

The company faces another 1,200 similar complaint cases; 1,000 in Missouri and 200 in New Jersey.

Many women have called into ABC27 News with concerns on baby powder and its safety.

Yes, the American Cancer Society saw some links between asbestos talcum powder and lung cancer. But, there was little evidence to suggest consumer-grade talcum powder is linked to as such.

Most hospitals have banned baby powder altogether due to its potentially slippery floor byproduct and breathing in particles.

The Food and Drug Administration said it has found no links to asbestos in any of J&J’s current products.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, with the World Health Organization, said longtime usage of talc on women’s genitals is “possibly carcinogenic”, given that it can travel up to the ovaries and cause inflammation over an extended period of time.

The National Toxicology Program in the United States has not done extensive enough research to determine if talc powder can be considered a carcinogen.

J&J’s ‘Shower to Shower’ body powder, the product named in the two losing lawsuits contains both talc and cornstarch.

Some J&J powder products have moved to “pure cornstarch”, which has no current link to cancer according to the ACS. A consumer must look at the label.

There are several USDA-approved organic products that claim to be safer alternatives to talc by using tapioca starch or kaolin clay, both of which have no current links to cancer-causing properties.

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