CAP calls for ban on talc-based products

Johnson & Johnson

PETALING JAYA: The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) has urged the Health Ministry to ban talcum powder and other talc based products, saying they have been linked to ovarian cancer and respiratory problems.

In a press statement released today, CAP President S M Mohamed Idris noted that the possibility of talc being cancerous had prompted the European Union to ban talc-based cosmetics altogether.

“Recently, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $72 million in damages to the family of an Alabama woman who died from ovarian cancer allegedly caused by using the company’s Baby Powder and other products that contained talc for feminine hygiene,” Idris said.

Talc is the common name for magnesium silicate hydroxide, a mineral that is the main ingredient in baby powder, medicated powder and perfumed body powders.

Idris pointed out that in Malaysia, ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer amongst women above 50 years of age, with about 500 being diagnosed with the disease each year.

“Ovarian cancer is known as particularly deadly because it is a silent cancer as it grows quietly and is often detected only at the final stages.”

He explained that talc particles are capable of moving up the reproductive system and embedding themselves in the lining of the ovary.

Talcum powder also posed a major risk to lungs as its tiny particles could easily work their way into them, he added.

“The puffy white cloud of powder, once airborne, can be inhaled by babies and other users,” he said. “This inhalation of powder during diaper changing sessions has led to injuries and even death of babies where the talc causes a baby’s airways to swell and cause pneumonia.”

Talcum powder had also been linked to asthma in children, he added.

He said consumers should instead use powder made from corn or rice flour. He also advised mothers to use ointments instead of medicated powders for rashes in babies.