Cancer ans Talcum Powder

This week’s article.

And an update: Couple suing Johnson & Johnson suing over talcum powder wins $37M.

I’m not convinced of the connection myself, just this is timely.

EDIT: And yes, I CAN spell “and.” Damned Fat Finger Syndrome. If a Mod could fix the title, I would appreciate it.

I worked in an auto parts plant for years. We made the lights for Gen Motors cars and trucks, using plastic by the train-car load. Talc was added to some of the plastic as the pellets were being moved by pneumatic tube to the molding machines. Why put talc in plastic? An engineer told me it added strength, or something. The place where the talc was dumped from 100 pound bags into hoppers was right next to a main aisle. When it happened, the whole area around it was befogged in talc powder until it settled.

I do not know if breathing talc was making the nearby workers sick. I’m not a doctor, I was a factory worker. I only know I coughed when I was briefly in the dust cloud. I didn’t have to work in it every day.

In other words, illness from breathing talc is a separate issue from shaking it on your hoo haw and it’s still not certain whether that includes cancer.

To be clear, this particular case did not involve claiming that talcum powder caused this person’s mesothelioma*, but that alleged asbestos contamination of the talc was responsible.

There’s evidence that talc silicates themselves do not cause mesothelioma, and it’s questionable whether asbestos contamination of commercial talcum powder products has occurred.


Another alleged talcum powder-cancer link involves risk of ovarian carcinoma, and the evidence here is conflicting.

Good fodder for personal injury lawyers though.

*ironically, talc is used as a treatment for mesothelioma, administered into pleural cavities to prevent the buildup of liquid (effusions) that occur in mesothelioma and inhibit breathing.