Talcum Powder Cancer scare | Health and Wellness | Maple and Marigold

I grew up in a country with a warm and humid climate where people look for every opportunity to cool off. Whether it means diving into the cool waters of a canal, sitting under a ceiling fan or a sprinkle of talcum powder, staying cool was important to survive the day. Recently I realised this last practice may have given me a higher possibility of getting ovarian cancer. In case you have missed the news – Talcum powder may cause cancer.

This article is in response to the recent lawsuits ordering Johnson & Johnson to pay hundreds of millions of Dollars to the families of women who have who died of Ovarian Cancer in the United States, and the subsequent response from furious customers. There are a number of US and Canada lawsuits pending against the company.

Edited to add on Dec 5th: Health Canada has warned consumers to avoid inhaling talcum powder or using the product on female genitals, as exposure may cause potentially serious respiratory effects and possibly ovarian cancer.

Smoking, drinking and having unprotected sex has long been considered risky behaviour but at no time have I even thought that sprinkling talcum powder in my nether regions would fall in the same category. Research today says otherwise. 

Dr. Steven Narod with the Women’s College Research Institute has said that for many years it’s been known that talcum powder is linked to ovarian cancer. Narod is a world leader in the field of breast and ovarian cancer genetics. “This link has progressively become stronger over time,” Narod told Global News. According to him, women who use talc routinely will face a “slight increase” in their chances of developing ovarian cancer.

What the hell does that mean for a person {like me} who for decades “routinely” used talcum powder?

Generations of women around the world have used talcum powder as a part of their personal hygiene routine. What is even more frightening to me is that this practice has been passed onto our children.  A sprinkle in the diaper, puff puff.  and as fresh as a baby’s bottom. Isn’t that what all the ads imply?

Not only am I concerned about my future health I am even more horrified about what I may have exposed my kids to. Baby powder is a staple in millions of homes around the world. If you see a diaper changing table you will likely spot a bottle of baby powder as well! It was baby powder, after all!

Edited to add on Dec 5: The Canadian Paediatric Society also advises against the use of talcum powder that many parents have used to prevent diaper rash in infants.

People are out for blood and we’re blaming the manufacturing companies for misleading the public, that there should have been a warning label on the bottle. I’m not sure if the warning would have done the work. Have you read the warning on your box of cotton swabs recently? My Q-tips box has a very specific warning to NEVER use the cotton swab in the ear. Guess what most people use a cotton swab for?


Talcum Powder Cancer scare | Health and Wellness | Maple and Marigold

I’m a fan of transparency and making educated decisions. As it turns out, more than 280 agents on the list of ingredients for talcum powder have been recognized as possible carcinogens. The phrase “possible carcinogens” seems a little ambiguous though since aloe vera falls in the same category.

As I read through the research, I’m discovering that the information around the carcinogenic effects of talcum powder is still pending. Health Canada though has presented it’s warning and while the back and forth continues between the scientists and everybody else, I am going to follow Paul Demers advice. 

“If you’re concerned overall about talcum powder, then there are enough things to worry about in life. I would simply not use it.”

Not for me and definitely not for my kids!

Have you used talcum powder for yourself or your children? I would love to hear from you. Comment below or on Facebook. 

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