Talcum Powder and Cancer

Before we delve into the details of the studies regarding talcum powder and its relation with cancer, let’s first understand what it exactly is. Talcum powder is produced from a mineral called talc or magnesium trisilicate. In its natural form, talc is found in the form of rocks. This substance is known to contain minute fibers, mainly asbestos, that are not easily separated during the processing of the powder from the rock. So, is this powder harmful? Studies have shown that asbestos, one of the ingredients in talc powder, is a carcinogen that can causes different types of cancer, with prolonged use. To understand this better, let us now take a look at all the research that has taken place regarding the relationship between the talc and cancer.


There may be a variety of uses of talcum powder, however, studies show that its frequent use can lead to the development of two types of cancer: lung cancer and ovarian cancer.

Lung Cancer
A research claims that, frequent inhalation of talcum powder may be a cause for lung cancer. Mothers, who use these powders on their babies have been warned against its use on a regular basis, of this risk. Not only are they putting the babies at risk, but themselves too, by inhaling it too often.

Apparently, talc is also an ingredient in the flea powder used for dogs. This has also been found dangerous, both for the pet, and the family with which it resides, posing a risk of lung cancer. It is mainly due to the extremely tiny particles of asbestos in the talcum powder, that can be easily inhaled and transported to the lungs, where it sets off an inflammatory reaction, and develops into the disease.

On the other hand, when further research was conducted, it was found that this theory has stemmed from the fact that talc miners, in large numbers, have been diagnosed with lung cancer. Since their job involves constant contact with talcum, cancer has been found most commonly in this group. Studies have also shown that the product the talc miners are exposed to, is unprocessed and therefore, more dangerous, than the final product that reaches the consumer, which is highly refined and processed. Even so, there have been a few reported cases of lung cancer caused by the frequent use of talcum powder, by the common consumer.

Ovarian Cancer
Studies on this subject are slightly hazy, and should be clarified. Women, who are already at a risk of ovarian cancer, due to reasons, such as, the start of menstruation at an early age, and a history of this disease in the family, are at an increased risk with the use of talcum powder. According to large-scale research studies, the use of talcum by women, on the genitals, causes the minute particles to travel into the ovaries, and leads to rapid multiplication of ovarian cells. This is one of the prime characteristics of cancer. This however, depends on exactly how much powder is being used. When used in excess the risk of ovarian cancer may increase.

Concluding Facts

Though the research on this subject continues, and has not really been concluded, many people refuse to believe this fact about talcum powder. The whole theory is considered to be over-hyped and blown out of proportion. In fact, some studies even claim that the use of talc powder prevents the development of cancer. This theory has not been completely proven as yet. However, the relation between talcum powder and cancer is not baseless. It has stemmed from the actual existence of such cases. Though the numbers may be few, one cannot completely discard this theory as a myth.

If you as a consumer, are concerned about this risky association, the only way to overcome it is, to reduce the use of talcum powder, or opt for substitutes of the same. There are several talc-free powders, baths, baby powders, and flea powders available in the market. Even if you are not concerned, and believe the whole theory to be a myth, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Simply reducing the use or switching to a substitute does not call for any extra effort on your part. Do not risk your health, or the health of your family. Dealing with cancer, caused by any reason, causes a lot of physical and emotional upheaval, and if you can do anything to prevent it, you definitely should.

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