The Baby Powder Controversy: What You Need to Know

by Elizabeth Peters October 17, 2016

The Baby Powder Controversy: What You Need to Know

Johnson and Johnson is a trusted name whose baby powder has been a staple of many homes for many decades. The purpose of the powder is to absorb abundance dampness and shield skin from scraping and disturbing rashes, and many women utilize it for femine hygeine.

But this common family item has recently been connected to cancer - most notably when Johnson and Johnson recently lost a civil claim brought by the family of a female who died of ovarian cancer following long-term use of their baby powder product.

The cancer claims have many people confused – is baby powder safe to use or not?

The American Cancer Society states on its site: "Investigations of individual utilization of talc powder have had mixed results, despite the fact that there is some proposal of a conceivable increment in ovarian tumor hazard."

Baby powder's fundamental ingredient is talc, a characteristic item made of magnesium, silicon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Apart from baby powder, talc is also found in a considerable measure of cosmetic items.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, has characterized talc applied to the genital range as "conceivably cancer-causing to people."

A couple of recent studies have found a connection between this disease and powder, however, none have demonstrated causation. Likewise, these studies haven't demonstrated a connection between exactly how much powder is utilized and how it influences the danger of ovarian cancer. This obviously makes things all the more confusing.

To place things into perspective, the known significant danger elements for the ovarian disease are genetic qualities, taking hormone substitution treatment and being overweight. The last two are modifiable danger considerations that have a greater impact than talc application.

Obviously, you can take this vague data and do with it what you like, but to be safe many experts are recommending against the use of baby powder on female genitals. As alternatives, creams like Destin moisturize skin and counteract abrading. In the event that you lean toward powders, cornstarch powder is a much safer option that has been observed to be ok for general use. Gold Bond and Johnson's are among a few brands that make a cornstarch version.

This is not the first controversy that has featured baby powder – despite its name, the American Academy of Pediatrics actually recommends against the use of baby powder for babies. Talc powders are considered a health risk to babies because of the high risk of them breathing them in. When inhaled baby powder can cause breathing problems and even serious lung damage in babies. It also isn’t great for moms and dads to be breathing in either.

For that reason it is important to keep baby powder containers out of the reach of young children in order to reduce the risk of them knocking it over and releasing the particles into the air where they will be inhaled.

There is still a lot of research that needs to be done, but for now it may be best to leave baby powder out of the family medicine cabinet all together.

Elizabeth Peters
Elizabeth Peters


Elizabeth Peters is a mother of two and freelance writer who specializes in the parenting/family niche. When she is not writing for clients she can be found blogging about parenting on her own blog at She currently resides in Alabama with her husband and two young children. Connect with her on Twitter: @themommyvortex

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