Talcum Powder Could Kill You!

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On Friday, July 5th, the World Health Organization’s cancer agency classified talc as “probably carcinogenic” for humans. However, an outside expert cautioned against interpreting this announcement as definitive evidence or a “smoking gun.” The classification was based on “limited evidence” that talc could cause ovarian cancer in humans, “sufficient evidence” that it was linked to cancer in rats, and “strong mechanistic evidence” that it shows carcinogenic signs in human cells, according to the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Talc is a naturally occurring mineral mined in many parts of the world and is commonly used to make baby powder and cosmetics. The greatest exposure to talc occurs during mining, processing, or manufacturing of these products, as noted by the Lyon-based IARC.

The agency highlighted numerous studies that showed an increase in the rate of ovarian cancer in women who used talc on their genitals. However, it could not definitively rule out that the talc in some studies was contaminated with asbestos, which is a well-known carcinogen. “A causal role for talc could not be fully established,” the agency’s findings published in The Lancet stated.

Kevin McConway, a statistician at the UK’s Open University who was not involved in the research, warned that the “most obvious interpretation is misleading” for the IARC’s evaluation. The agency’s goal is to determine if the substance has the potential to cause cancer under certain conditions, which IARC does not specify. Because the studies were observational and could not prove causation, McConway noted, “There isn’t a smoking gun that talc use causes increased cancer risk.”

This announcement came weeks after the US pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $700 million to settle allegations that it misled customers about the safety of its talcum-based products. Despite the settlement, Johnson & Johnson did not admit to any wrongdoing and had already withdrawn the product from the North American market in 2020.

A summary of studies published in 2020, covering 250,000 women in the United States, did not find a statistical link between the use of talc on the genitals and the risk of ovarian cancer. Also on Friday, the IARC classified acrylonitrile, a chemical compound used to make polymers, as “carcinogenic to humans,” its highest warning level, citing “sufficient evidence” linking acrylonitrile to lung cancer. Polymers made with acrylonitrile are used in a wide range of consumer products, from clothing fibers to carpets and plastics.

Ellie – 360News – Health

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