Talcum powder is made from finely ground talc, a naturally occurring mineral. For years, women have been assured that talcum powder products such as Johnson’s Baby Powder and Johnson & Johnson’s Shower to Shower were safe and gentle to use for purposes of personal hygiene. A growing number of studies, however, have shown an increased risk of ovarian cancer with regular talcum powder use. Various organizations, such as the Canadian Cancer Society and IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer), have recognized genital use of talc as a possible human carcinogen, while the National Cancer Institute (NCI) lists talcum powder usage as a risk factor for ovarian cancer. Thousands of women who developed ovarian cancer have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, and three of these lawsuits have result in multi-million dollar verdicts against the company. Given a growing concern over the possible health risks of talcum powder, many women have questioned whether they should continue to use such products, and whether there are any safe alternatives.
Many body powders are made with cornstarch, rather than talcum powder. At this time, there is no evidence that cornstarch has any link to ovarian cancer, and many experts recommend using powders made with cornstarch instead of talc. Silk powder and finely milled oats provide other alternatives to talcum powder. Women who want to avoid using talcum powder should be sure to read the label because some products contain both talcum powder and cornstarch.
Many doctors believe that body powders do not actually keep you dry and fresh, and some warn that they may make you more prone to infections. Accordingly, they recommend using only soap and water to stay fresh. Wearing proper fitting, breathable materials are also recommended.
American Cancer Society, Talcum Powder and Cancer, available on line https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/talcum-powder-and-cancer.html
Medical Experts Recommend Women Use Cornstarch Powder: American Cancer Society and Other Cancer Groups Say Non-Talc Powders are Safe to Use, available on line http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/medical-experts-recommend-women-use-corns…
Canadian Cancer Society, Risk Factors For Ovarian Cancer, available on line http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/ovarian/risks/?region=on
NHS Choices: Urinary tract infections in adults, available on line http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Urinary-tract-infections-adults/Pages/Introduction.aspx
NCI, A Snapshot of Ovarian Cancer, https://www.cancer.gov/research/progress/snapshots/ovarian