Studies reveal that talcum powder could cause cancer
Johnson & Johnson have been sued after a woman in America died from ovarian cancer, caused by using their baby talcum powder and ‘shower to shower’ products.
Johnson & Johnson are expected to launch an appeal, although this case is one of many others currently being brought against them by American consumers.
But can talcum powder actually cause cancer?
Well, new studies reveal that talcum powder could cause cancer, although experts seem to be divided on whether or not this is true.
When talcum powder was first introduced many years ago, is was discovered that some talcs contained traces of asbestos. So back in the 1970’s manufacturer’s stopped using the mineral talc and switched to corn starch.
This is what is used to make Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and other versions of talcum powder.
Although it is considered to be perfectly safe, some studies conducted suggest it could actually cause ovarian cancer if women use it on their delicate genital area.
But most experts say there is no reliable evidence or proof to these claims.
Experts say there’s no need cause for concern
Researchers say that talcum powders manufactured today are “not classifiable as to carcinogenicity” when they are inhaled. However, they do class the use of talc on the genital areas as “possibly carcinogenic.”
Despite this, British experts say that people should not be concerned and continue to use the products as normal.
Information nurse specialist, Tracie Miles, says, “It’s not real. It’s simply not proven. I would say the majority of informed gynaecologists in the UK dismiss this suggestion.”
“If we took this case through the British courts, I don’t think the complainant would stand a chance in hell. It’s just the American judicial system. I find it disappointing.”
Legal experts are in agreement with Tracie and say that unlike the case involving the American woman, where the decision was made by the people on the jury, in Britain it would be the Judge making the decision based upon scientific evidence.
A Harley Street gynaecologist, Dr Ahmed Ismail, who also agrees with these other experts says, “This is very, very unscientific. We are unable to detect the reasons for ovarian cancer. Whoever claims it is related to talcum powder, that’s a fallacy. We cannot say that we know there is a relationship between talcum powder and ovarian cancer.”
Dr Ismail says that at the present time there isn’t a way to test this link. The only way would be to test every woman in the country with ovarian cancer and conduct tests to see whether she had used talcum powder in the past.
Nobody knows the cause of ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer deaths in women, but nobody knows the actual cause and there’s currently no screening test that can be performed for it. But scientists have been able to identify some of the risks.
Tracie Miles says, “We know people with the BRCA gene which raise your cancer risk if they mutate and can be inherited have a higher risk of getting ovarian cancer. We know that women usually over 50 have a higher risk, while women who have taken the Pill and had multiple pregnancies reduce their risk.”
“Everything has a potential to be carcinogenic. But women might want to know why was it asked specifically if talc is carcinogenic? Why did that question come about?”
Dr Ahmed Ismail explains that women should not be using talcum powder on their genital area. But this isn’t because it can cause cancer, but because it can cause other complications such as vaginal infections.
He says, “We don’t advise women to use any powders in the genital area,” he says. “It’s moist and if it mixes with the powder it becomes muddy and easily prone to infections. It can go into the cervix or uterus and spread further.”
“It’s really, really unnecessary to use talcum powder. Some women think it will dry the area but it doesn’t – it makes it much more inflamed and easily attacked by infection.”
Midwife says parents shouldn’t use talc on babies
Former midwife and baby expert, Clare Byam-Cook, advises that parents don’t use talcum powder on their babies. But not because there is any link to cancer, but because it just isn’t necessary.
She says, “In the old days we used to dust babies all over with talcum powder but it’s a waste of money,” she says. “Babies don’t need any lotions and potions, so long as they’re washed and dried properly. Unlike us oldies, their skin is perfect and doesn’t need anything. They don’t need talcum powder, so why use it?”
And other experts are in agreement.
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