Talcum powder and other containing products containing talc are ubiquitous in the modern world. Talcum powder is considered a “staple” consumer product that most people have in their home. Talc has many industrial applications including paper making, plastics, paint and coatings, rubber, food and even electrical cable but its most common home use is as an astringent – to keep skin dry and prevent diaper rashes.
What’s interesting is that most people don’t even actually know what talc is. Do you? Talc is a mineral – hydrated magnesium silicate – which has the chemical formula H2Mg3(SiO3)4. In powder form it is typically known as talcum.
With over 14000 deaths in the United Stated each year, ovarian cancer still considered “rare” but is the most lethal gynecologic cancer. 
Suspicions have arisen about the possibility that its use contributes to certain types of diseases, mainly cancers of the ovaries and lungs. This isn’t new: Did you know that in 1994, the Cancer Prevention Coalition (CPC) submitted a citizen petition to the FDA seeking labeling on all cosmetic talc products? The requested labeling was a warning that talcum powder causes cancer in laboratory animals; frequent talc application in the female genital area increases the risk of ovarian cancer. This petition was denied. 
Based on the evidence from studies, in 2006 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified genital talc use as possibly carcinogenic to humans, listing it in the same 2B category in the IARC listing as mobile phones and coffee. However despite several studies finding a positive correlation to cancers (stretching back over 25 years!) the official line is that this connection is still “unproven”. However it could also be argued that its safety remains unproven also!
Our view however is that it is wise to be informed, be aware of the current state of the science. We all know how long it can take to ban substances that are dangerous. Remember chlordane? An extreme example, perhaps but took 40 years for that terrible insecticide to be banned! Why wait until something is proven dangerous when there are alternatives? Why not protect your family’s health in the interim and then start using it again when it is proven safe? Surely the responsibility should be on the manufacturers of consumer products to prove they are safe, rather than on independent scientists to prove that they are unsafe…
First of all, you should be careful not to breathe talc! Check out what this MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for talc states:
“CAUTION! CHRONIC INHALATION MAY CREATE A RESPIRATORY HAZARD. MAY AFFECT EYES, RESPIRATORY SYSTEM AND CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM. MAY AFFECT LUNGS. CANCER HAZARD. CONTAINS CRYSTALLINE SILICA WHICH CAN CAUSE CANCER. Risk of cancer depends upon duration and level of exposure.” 
Here’s a collection of scientific reports so that you can see for yourself that we aren’t making this up and so that you can do your own investigation and make up your own mind…:
Henderson WJ, Joslin CA, Turnbull AC, Griffiths K (1971). “Talc and carcinoma of the ovary and cervix”. J Obstet Gynaecol Br Commonw 78 (3): 266–272.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/5558843
Hollinger, MA (1990). “Pulmonary toxicity of inhaled and intravenous talc”.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2198684
National Toxicology, Program (1993). “NTP Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies of Talc (Non-Asbestiform) in Rats and Mice (Inhalation Studies)”.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12616290
Harlow, Cramer, Bell; et al. (1992). “Perineal exposure to talc and ovarian cancer risk”. Obstetrics and gynecology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1603491 This study found “significantly elevated” risk of ovarian cancer in women who applied talc “to the perineum or to undergarments, sanitary napkins, or diaphragms”: “The greatest ovarian cancer risk associated with perineal talc use was observed in the subgroup of women estimated to have made more than 10,000 applications during years when they were ovulating and had an intact genital tract”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1603491
Harlow, BL; Hartge, PA (Apr 1995). “A review of perineal talc exposure and risk of ovarian cancer.”. Regulatory toxicology and pharmacology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7644715
Perineal use of talcum powder and endometrial cancer risk. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. (2010) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20406962
One of the issues traditionally associated with talc is that it is often mined from places where asbestos is found – however stringent quality controls have been enforced in modern times to ensure that cosmetic talc is asbestos free.
Alternative To Talc
For a simple alternative to talc for gentle skin drying – you can use cornstarch. However note that much of the corn starch found in USA and some other countries is made from GMO corn – so if you are concerned about that, you can obtain non-GMO cornstarch. We’ve researched and located one on Amazon for you here at $7 for 8 oz. ==> http://amzn.to/1NdOqJL
 Talc Use and Ovarian Cancer: Epidemiology Between a Rock and a Hard Place. JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst (2014) http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/106/9/dju260.long
 Talc as Used in Cosmetics. Cosmetic Ingredient Review (2012). http://www.cir-safety.org/sites/default/files/talc_082012SLR.pdf
Follow us on Twitter at @Riverinenews
Copyright 2014 Riverine News.
Permission to use portions of this article is granted provided appropriate credits are given to http://riverinenews.com/ and other relevant sources.