What is Talc? “Talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral made up mainly of the elements magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. (https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/talcum-powder-and-cancer.html). “Talc is a naturally occurring mineral, mined from the earth, composed of magnesium, silicon, oxygen, and hydrogen. Chemically, talc is a hydrous magnesium silicate with a chemical formula of Mg3Si4O10(OH)2.” (https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/productsingredients/ingredients/ucm293184.htm). It Sounds Like Talc is Made of Good Things. Oxygen, hydrogen, magnesium, and silicon do not sound like bad things to many people. Hopefully, we all learned in grade school that our atmosphere consists of approximately 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, smaller amounts of carbon dioxide, neon, and hydrogen. We see magnesium on the ingredients list of many dietary supplements, because it is necessary for the development of normal bone structure in our bodies. As for silicon, we learned in school that it is just an element with symbol Si and assigned atomic number 14. “Silicon is the principal component of glass, cement, ceramics, most semiconductor devices, and silicones, the latter a plastic substance often confused with silicon. Silicon is also an important constituent of some steels and a major ingredient in bricks. It is a refractory material used in making enamels and pottery.” (https://www.lenntech.com/periodic/elements/si.htm). “Silicon concentrates in no particular organ of the body but is found mainly in in connective tissues and skin. Silicon is non-toxic as the element and in all its natural forms, nameli silica and silicates, which are the most abundant.” (https://www.lenntech.com/periodic/elements/si.htm). One researcher seems to believe that silicon protects us from aluminum toxicity. “Life on Earth as we know it today exists in spite of aluminium and because through evolutionary time silicon protected all living things from the toxicity of aluminium.” (https://phys.org/news/2016-08-silicon-toxicity-aluminium.html). How Do We Come into Contact with Talc? “As a powder, it absorbs moisture well and helps cut down on friction, making it useful for keeping skin dry and helping to prevent rashes. It is widely used in cosmetic products such as baby powder and adult body and facial powders, as well as in a number of other consumer products.” (https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/talcum-powder-and-cancer.html). “Talc has many uses in cosmetics and other personal care products; in food, such as rice and chewing gum; and in the manufacture of tablets. For example, it may be used to absorb moisture, to prevent caking, to make facial makeup opaque, or to improve the feel of a product.” (https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/productsingredients/ingredients/ucm293184.htm). What Makes Talc Bad? This question can be answered in one word, “asbestos.” “In its natural form, some talc contains asbestos, a substance known to cause cancers in and around the lungs when inhaled (see Asbestos). In 1976, the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrances Association (CTFA), which is the trade association representing the cosmetic and personal care products industry, issued voluntary guidelines stating that all talc used in cosmetic products in the United States should be free from detectable amounts of asbestos according to their standards.” (https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/talcum-powder-and-cancer.html). Does Talc Cause Cancer and Other Diseases in Humans? Ovarian Cancer
Whether talc causes ovarian cancer in humans is the subject of hot debate right now. “While some studies suggest a connection, however, others remain inconclusive. Furthermore, companies like Johnson & Johnson deny that any link exists based on the results of privately funded studies that failed to identify such a link.” (https://www.consumersafety.org/news/talcum-powder-cancer/). “Many studies in women have looked at the possible link between talcum powder and cancer of the ovary. Findings have been mixed, with some studies reporting a slightly increased risk and some reporting no increase. Many case-control studies have found a small increase in risk. But these types of studies can be biased because they often rely on a person’s memory of talc use many years earlier. One prospective cohort study, which would not have the same type of potential bias, has not found an increased risk. A second found a modest increase in risk of one type of ovarian cancer.” (https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/talcum-powder-and-cancer.html). Dr. Anne McTiernan, an epidemiologist, “testified at the subcommittee hearing that she had reviewed 38 “high-quality studies” done over the past 40 years. She said, “Data consistently shows that women who had ever used talcum powder products in the genital area had a statistically significant 22 percent to 31 percent increased risk of developing ovarian cancer compared with women who had never used them. ... We know from lab and clinical studies that talc can migrate to ovaries and fallopian tubes and that it can cause inflammatory responses in the human body.” She went on to say inflammation is thought to be one contributing factor to the development of cancerous cells.” (https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/3/13/18263493/baby-powder-regulation-congress).
Lung Cancer and Other Lung Diseases
“Some studies of talc miners and millers have suggested an increased risk of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases, while others have found no increase in lung cancer risk. These studies have been complicated by the fact that talc in its natural form can contain varying amounts of asbestos and other minerals, unlike the purified talc in consumer products. When working underground, miners can also be exposed to other substances that might affect lung cancer risk, such as radon.” (https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/talcum-powder-and-cancer.html). “Talcum powder has also been associated with lung cancer and other pulmonary issues, although studies have shown conflicting results. Additionally, because lung cancer is linked with asbestos, which can contaminate talcum powder, it is hard to separate and pinpoint the cause of the cancer. There is more scientific support for a link between talcum powder and other lung-related issues, such as pulmonary talcosis, fibrosis, and granulomatosis. Infants are especially at risk for these conditions, so the use of talcum powder on babies is not recommended.” (https://www.consumersafety.org/news/talcum-powder-cancer/). Lawsuits “In the very first talcum powder lawsuit, filed in 2009, J&J offered plaintiff Deane Berg $1.3 million to settle out of court. However, upon learning that the settlement came with a confidentiality clause, the ovarian cancer survivor decided to reject the settlement and make sure others knew about the dangers posed by perineal use of talc instead. Unfortunately, although the jury verdict ultimately favored Berg, she was not awarded any damages.” (https://www.consumersafety.org/legal/talcum-powder-lawsuit/). “Since 2013, there have been several high-profile trials deciding if talc causes ovarian cancer. At least six verdicts have come from Missouri courts, while the largest verdict arose from a Los Angeles jury court in August 2017. Six of these verdicts have gone in favor of the plaintiffs, with five resulting in awards totaling over $724 million. Thousands of suits are still awaiting trials. Below are overviews of a few notable ca” (https://www.consumersafety.org/legal/talcum-powder-lawsuit/). As of 2019, “Johnson & Johnson is in the midst of more than 11,000 lawsuits alleging that baby powder usage caused cancers, primarily ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. Juries have awarded plaintiffs huge settlements in talc cases, including almost $4.7 billion to a group of 22 women in July 2018. In December 2018, Reuters published a bombshell story, digging up court documents that suggested that from the 1970s through 2000, Johnson & Johnson hid reports from government agencies that some batches of its talc contained asbestos. The story tanked the company’s stock price. On the basis of various media reports and court documents, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department issued subpoenas to the company in February to further investigate.” (https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/3/13/18263493/baby-powder-regulation-congress). Contacting Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D. If you, a family member, a loved one, a friend, or anyone you know is experiencing problems which you attribute to talc exposure, it may be time for you or that other person to contact a lawyer. There are statutes of limitations (deadlines), so waiting too long can mean no case. Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D. offers free consultations on talc cases for people who reside in California.
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