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Is Asbestos Present in Talcum Powder?

Lately, there have been some questions around talcum powder use and its ability to cause cancer. Many of these concerns arose when the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer was awarded $72 million by a St. Louis jury. The cancer was linked to talcum powder use throughout her life.

While it is unclear if asbestos was present in the powder in this case, the substance has been known to be a contaminant in talc products.


Both talc and asbestos are naturally-occurring minerals within our earth, and were mined for consumer purposes. When talc is mined from the earth, it is possible that asbestos can contaminate the substance.

Talc that is known to be contaminated with asbestos is believed to be able to cause cancer if inhaled. As asbestos use was phased out in the late 1970's it was no longer acceptable for talc products to contain asbestos. Today, it is believed that all consumer talc products are free of asbestos.

This does not eliminate the risk of individuals getting cancer, though. Those that worked in talc mines and those that used talcum products prior to the late 1970's are at risk for past asbestos exposure, which could lead to debilitating and fatal diseases today.

If you are concerned that asbestos might have been present in talc products that you used in the past, familiarize yourself with symptoms related to asbestos exposure. Alerting your doctor to the possibility of past exposure will help them better understand symptoms if/when they arise.

Sources: | International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health  

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