Dangers of talc/baby powder and a health alternative!

20130117-230356.jpgFor years, I’ve used Johnson & Johnson baby powder for all sorts of things; in shoes for clammy feet, cosmetic uses, deodorant, on your sheets when it’s hot in the summer, and my favorite use is on oily hair.  Whenever I don’t have time to rewash my hair before a meeting, I throw some baby powder in my hair to dry out my roots.  I’m not sure if I’m the last one to hear about this or not but baby powder/ talcum powder is pretty gnarly.

“Now we have another study (published in the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention journal) that shows that women who use talcum powder around their genital areas are 40% more likely to develop ovarian cancer. The study led by Dr Maggie Gates of Harvard Medical School analyzed 3,000 women. The risk of ovarian cancer for those who used talcum powder once a week was found to be 36%, while those using it every day the risk went up to 41%.”  {This is cited from the link below}


Learn more: Preventcancer.com article

Learn more: Huffinton Post

The bottom line is; switch to Organic Cornstarch.  Above is a picture of my old baby powder bottle that I emptied out and refilled with organic cornstarch.  Go talc free and make sure to check the ingredients on other cosmetics as many powders contain talc.


7 thoughts on “Dangers of talc/baby powder and a health alternative!

  1. Britt, that Huffington Post article is at least partially inaccurate. (I expect better from them; they’re usually very good about checking their information.) Although Johnson & Johnson still manufactures talc baby powder, they also manufacture a pure cornstarch baby powder, and have done so for at least nine years. (I’m pretty sure that they’ve been doing so for significantly longer, but the bottle I’m staring at as I type this dates back to ’04.) J&J’s own employees have been recommending the cornstarch over the talc for ages because of the very issues you’ve cited.

    You’re absolutely right about organic being better than non-organic cornstarch though, but the J&J cornstarch will work well if you’re in a bind.

    • Hi Cyrax! I’m not really sure which part of the HP article you believe is inaccurate? My warning to avoid talc powder came from several sources of peer reviewed data citing potential risks of talc powder, commonly distributed by Johnson & Johnson. The blog post above isn’t particularly concerned with who manufactures the talc powder, but instead, a warning to avoid the substance altogether and substituting a healthier option.

      Thank you for your comment! 🙂

      • Britt, below is the passage from the HuffPost article that I take issue with.

        Manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, and widely distributed by Osco and Walgreens… women have been persuaded by advertisements to dust themselves with talcum powder to mask alleged genital odors.

        The article makes it sound as if J&J is pushing the talcum powder, (as opposed to the pure cornstarch/Zea Mays powder,) when they’ve actually used the pure cornstarch in their advertisements for more years than I can remember now. Although there are some drugstores that do still carry the talcum powder, it’s my understanding that they have to specifically request it in order for J&J to provide it to them; if they just ask for “baby powder,” J&J sends them the Zea Mays powder.

        I completely forgot to mention this in my previous comment, but the reason why J&J and others continue to manufacture, and stores continue to request talcum powder, is that there are people who are allergic to corn. For people with a corn allergy, cornstarch powder is far more toxic than talcum powder. I have a relative with this particular allergy, and she has to use the talcum powder, because anything corn–based is potentially lethal for her. (My family wound up discussing this between dinner and desert on Thanksgiving one year, so she’s certainly aware of talc’s carcinogenic properties.)

        Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree with you that for most people, (myself included,) cornstarch powder is a much healthier alternative to talcum powder. However, for those with a corn allergy, talcum powder is unfortunately the lesser of two evils. Those without the aforementioned allergy should definitely avoid it though.

        On a side note, I was finally able to check my travel size bottle of the J&J pure cornstarch powder, and I can now confirm that they’ve been manufacturing it since ’92 at the absolute earliest. (Again, I’m pretty sure that it’s been around longer than that, but I don’t want to cite an inaccurate year.) Also, I hope you don’t mind my asking, but approximately how old is that bottle in your photo? If I had to guess I’d say that it dates back to the mid to late ’80s or very early ’90s, but I don’t think that I’ve seen that particular design in over 20 years. (By the way, I don’t want to clog up your comments section, so please don’t hesitate to send me an e–mail if you think it would be a more suitable method of communication.)

        Thanks for replying to my comment! 🙂

        P.S. I would have posted with my real name, but I had to log in to post, and I purposely have Gravatar set up to only reveal my alias. (Oh well, my alias is easier to pronounce than my full name anyway, so I suppose it’s for the better.)

  2. I work around talc all the time, and I try to avoid breathing it as much as possiable. We grind it into powder form around 325 microns and smaller. The dust hangs in the air for hours, and can get so thick that you cant see 10 feet in front of you, and After a few mins I can feel my nose and throut start burning, and i know it cant be good for the lungs if it does that so quickly. What is the worst thing that can happen if you breath the dust for long periods of time? Can it cause any type of rash from exposure? How much does it take to damage the lungs?

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