You might have heard about a possible link between baby powder and cancer. But experts say we still don’t know with 100% certainty whether using baby powder actually increases risk for the disease.
The American Cancer Society says people concerned about the possible risk “may want to avoid or limit” exposure.
Thanks to a number of recent, high-profile lawsuits, you might have heard about a possible link between baby powder and cancer. In particular, some women have claimed that baby powder caused them to get ovarian cancer.
Given all the buzz, it’s natural to wonder whether the product is safe. So should you should really swear off baby powder forever — or is the risk being over-hyped? Unfortunately, the answer still isn’t totally clear.
Baby powder (and many other cosmetic products) often contain talcum powder. It’s made from a naturally occurring mineral called talc. In its natural form, talc contains asbestos — a substance that definitely does cause cancer when inhaled. However, the American Cancer Society (ACS) says that talcum powder products sold in the U.S. have been free of asbestos since the 1970s.
Studies have focused on lung cancer and ovarian cancer.
There are two main concerns when it comes to talcum powder and cancer risk, according to the ACS. The first is whether people who are exposed to talc at work (like talc miners) could get lung cancer by breathing it in. The second is whether women who put talcum powder on their genital area could be at higher risk for ovarian cancer.
Let’s start with lung cancer: Though there is some evidence that people who mine or work with natural talc can be at an increased risk for lung cancer, the ACS says that there has been no reported link between lung cancer and cosmetic products that contain talcum powder.