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What is the risk of using talcum powder products?

Because of the Food and Drug Administration, we expect that the food, drug and cosmetic products we see on store shelves are safe to use. If they are harmful, we expect proper labeling that indicates the danger and risks so that we as consumers can make an informed decision about whether or not to buy the product.

Unfortunately, a number of lawsuit verdicts in the last year seem to be calling attention to a risk many people may not even be aware of: that prolonged use of certain talcum powder products could lead to some forms of cancer. Despite the possible danger, there are no warning labels on these products, which raises an important question:

Do products containing talc cause cancer?

In order to answer this question, you need to consider two things, explains the American Cancer Society: lab studies and case studies involving people. In lab studies, the foundation explains, animals are often exposed to substances in extremely high dosages to see the effect. This can sometimes skew results and therefore public opinion about the nature of a particular substance.

While a lab study may suggest that a product is safe, case studies of patients can indicate something else. As Every Day Health reports, three cases against Johnson & Johnson have already been settled for patients who say prolonged use of talc-powder products were responsible for the development of ovarian and other forms of cancer.

What research tells us

Even though an FDA study of some 34 cosmetic products containing talcum powder between 2009 and 2010 didn't turn up any traces of asbestos, we know that in its natural state, talc can contain asbestos. We also know that asbestos exposure can lead to certain forms of cancer including ovarian, lung and other forms.

While it's possible for a talc-containing product to not have asbestos, it's also possible for trace amounts to exist in other products. As a result, health and beauty manufacturers like Johnson & Johnson may see more litigation later on regarding the possible risk to consumer safety and the potential for personal injury and wrongful death claims.

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