Carcinogenic Case of Baby Talcum Powder: Further Discussion on Safety of Talcum Powder

According to reports from Reuters, a US jury ruled on February 22 local time that Johnson & Johnson must compensate the family of a female victim who had used the company’s talcum powder-containing baby powder for a long time and died of cancer last October.

Prickly heat and diaper rash (red buttocks) are common skin diseases in infants. Many mothers will consider using baby powder and prickly heat powder for their babies.

Let’s talk about whether talcum powder can still be used.

Is there any carcinogenic risk if asbestos is contained?


The main ingredient of traditional talcum powder is talcum powder, and prickly heat powder is talcum powder added with prickly heat removing and antipruritic ingredients.

Talc is one of the natural minerals, which is often contaminated by asbestos in natural form. Talc powder that is not qualified for processing may contain a small amount of asbestos.

Asbestos can be ingested by human body through respiratory tract, skin or oral cavity. It is a carcinogen determined by the International Cancer Research Center. Long-term contact may lead to asbestosis, lung cancer and other diseases.

Neither the United States nor China is allowed to add asbestos to daily chemical products. If talcum powder is a regular and qualified product, theoretically it should be strictly tested medical talcum powder and will not contain asbestos.

Then the question arises… … …

Does not contain asbestos, is it safe?

There is no definite conclusion.

There is also a carcinogenic theory that even if asbestos is not contained, talcum powder and other fine particles in the perineum will enter the ovary through the vagina, thus causing ovarian canceration.

However, up to now, international research conclusions are inconsistent: some studies believe that talcum powder (without asbestos) as the main raw material will increase the risk of ovarian cancer; Some studies believe that there is no inevitable correlation between the two.

Because the existing research is not sufficient and the evidence is relatively limited, the International Cancer Research Center lists talcum powder as [Class 2B carcinogen], which means carcinogen with lower possibility.

[Class 2B Carcinogen] Does It Mean what?

Let’s put it this way, ham, which we often come into contact with in our life, turns out to be [Category 1 carcinogen], which means it has a definite carcinogenic effect on people. Does this mean that eating ham will definitely lead to cancer? In fact, there is no direct connection between increasing carcinogenic risk and carcinogenic ability. Whether to eat every day and how much to eat every day are all influencing factors.

Corn powder, do you want to use it?

This is not the case.

Due to people’s fear of talcum powder, there are also many corn talcum powder on the market now. If mothers are really not at ease, they can consider choosing corn talcum powder without talcum powder.

However, if the baby already has red buttocks or prickly heat, corn flour may instead become the food and hotbed of fungi. Continued use at this time may aggravate the infection.

Toilet powder is not recommended because it is useless.

Authoritative organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) do not advocate the routine use of talcum powder for infants.

Even if talcum powder is natural corn flour or talcum powder without asbestos, it is best not to use it for babies.

It is also a bit too [scary] to say that talcum powder causes cancer, because its biggest problem is not whether it can cause cancer. Authorities do not recommend talcum powder because it does not exist at all! Yes! Use! And frequent use of talcum powder may lead to other problems:

    Respiratory problems: Infants’ respiratory tract development is not perfect, To minimize dust inhalation, Otherwise, it is easy to induce respiratory tract infection, It may also induce diseases such as allergic asthma. Blocking pores: Infants’ metabolism is very fast, It is easy to sweat and urinate. If there is more water, sweat and secretions on the skin surface, talcum powder will form lumps or granules, which may block pores and affect skin breathing. Breeding bacteria: corn flour talcum powder will also become a hotbed for bacteria to breed after damp, even inducing or aggravating skin diseases such as prickly heat and diaper rash.

How to correctly care for the baby’s skin?

For babies, the most important thing is to keep the skin clean and dry (especially at wrinkles). Do the following two things to prevent prickly heat and diaper rash:

  1. Change diapers or diapers frequently for your baby. If it is defecation, rinse your baby clean with clear water, then blow dry with a low-grade hair dryer to keep your buttocks dry, and finally apply hip cream containing zinc oxide.

  2. After each bath, completely dry the skin, especially the wrinkled parts such as neck, armpit and thigh groove, and then properly use baby emollient to protect the skin.

How to use talcum powder correctly?

Although talcum powder is not recommended, it is not absolutely forbidden. If parents really want to use it, please pay attention to the following points:

    Choose talcum powder produced by regular manufacturers, Make sure that asbestos-free skin is completely dried and then powdered only for places with flushing and moist manifestations. Do not smear it all over your body without powder puff. Directly dip your hand in powder and apply it to the baby, And only a thin layer can be applied to avoid using talcum powder in windy places, When applying powder, act gently and try to block the baby’s face when using it. Avoid nose and mouth If the baby’s skin has been eroded and exuded, Stop using talcum powder immediately and seek help from doctors in time. If red buttocks occur, do not use corn talcum powder either. Do not use talcum powder for babies with high risk of respiratory diseases, including premature infants, children with congenital heart diseases and children with respiratory diseases. Keep talcum powder out of reach of children.

Source: Cao Jianyin-Can talcum powder cause cancer? Can it still be used by children?