Talcum powder is a product made from the fine powder, a soft mineral extracted from the earth. It is sold as a cosmetic product for babies, children, and adults, often with added ingredients and flavors.
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Talc is often used to absorb moisture and reduce friction, prevent bruising, protect against rashes, and keep skin dry and clean. It can also be used to freshen clothes or prevent or reduce body odor in underwear or shoes.
Until recently, talc was used as a dry lubricant on the inside of surgical and latex test gloves. However, the Food and Drug Administration banned the use of these talc products in 2016.
Talc is sold in many forms, mainly as cosmetics. Products that contain powder may be labeled as baby powder, diaper rash powder, face powder, body powder, or foot powder. It is also found in several types of facial cosmetics, including eye shadow, foundation, and blush.
However, not all brands or product formulations of this type contain talc and many manufacturers are now choosing to replace the powder with other ingredients such as cornstarch.
Many potential health risks are associated with talcum exposure. Of serious concern is whether talc increases the risk of ovarian cancer when used for feminine hygiene, as is often found in products made for women.
The first study showing a possible link between ovarian cancer and talc was done in 1971. Since then, a number of scientific studies have shown a 30% increase in risk when talc is applied to the female genital area. However, several studies have shown mixed results, including a study sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. Therefore, research is currently being carried out on this topic.