Baby Powder – Is It Safe To Use?

Baby Powder - Is It Safe To Use?

Is Baby Powder Safe To Use?

Following the news of Johnson & Johnson’s recent court case involving their baby powder product, you might be wondering whether it’s safe to continue using baby powder.

Johnson & Johnson were ordered to pay $72 million in damages after Jacqueline Fox, a loyal customer, died of ovarian cancer, in October. She was just 62 years of age, and her death was linked to the use of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and ‘Shower to Shower’, spanning several decades.

Her foster son, Marvin Salter, said the Alabama woman had used the brand for decades: “It just became second nature, like brushing your teeth. It’s a household name.”

After a three week trial last month, the state jury in Missouri took just five hours to reach a verdict.  The company has been accused of failing to warn consumers about the risk of cancer from using products made from talc. The jury found the company guilty of fraud, negligence and conspiracy. Johnson & Johnson are expected to appeal the verdict.

The company faces another 1,200 lawsuits regarding the link between talc and ovarian cancer.

Fox’s lawyers argued that the multinational corporation hid the cancer risk from consumers and regulators. Internal documents that referred to the known cancer risk were included as part of the evidence in the trial. The case marks the first time that monetary damages have been awarded with regard to this issue.

Carol Goodrich, a representative of Johnson & Johnson, told journalists: “We have no higher responsibility than the health and safety of consumers, and we are disappointed with the outcome of the trial. We sympathise with the plaintiff’s family but firmly believe the safety of cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence.”

Talc historically contained asbestos, which is a known carcinogen. However, modern day talc doesn’t contain asbestos. Most talc manufacturers switched to using cornstarch instead of the mineral talc in the late 90s, thanks to the suspected link with ovarian cancer.

Is It Safe To Use Talc?

A link between talc use and ovarian cancer has not been conclusively proved. Cancer Research states on its website: “If something truly causes cancer, you would expect people who are exposed to more of that thing to have a higher risk. For example, the more you smoke, the higher your risk of lung cancer. But the majority of the studies have not found a similar relationship for talc use and ovarian cancer.”

The science is still out on this one; talc is officially classed as ‘possibly carcinogenic’. It’s not yet clear whether talc can be blamed for causing ovarian cancer, but many women are likely to switch to using a towel for feminine hygiene after this case. Although still referred to as ‘baby powder’, this product has fallen out of mainstream use for babies and young children.

Recommended Reading: Does Your Toddler’s Sippee Cup Contain Mold?



Fiona Peacock is a writer, researcher and lover of all things to do with pregnancy, birth and motherhood (apart from the lack of sleep). She is a home birth advocate, passionate about gentle parenting and is also really tired.

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