The Government of Canada is considering measures that would prohibit or restrict the use of talc in a limited number of product types, such as certain cosmetics, natural health products and non-prescription drugs.
Most uses of talc (such as in paper, plastics, paint, ceramics, putties, food, as well as many cosmetics, natural health products and non-prescription drugs) are not a concern to human health. However, based on the latest science and the draft screening assessment, the Government of Canada proposes that inhaling loose talc powders and using certain products containing talc in the female genital area may be harmful to human health.
However, Health Canada clarified that talc products that do not create dust clouds — such as pressed powder — are not linked to lung damage. The health agency also found talc was linked to ovarian cancer if applied to the female genital area.
Health Canada is advising individuals of the following:
- Avoid inhaling loose talc powders
- Avoid using products containing talc in the female genital area
- Keep baby powder away from a child’s face to avoid inhalation
- Check the ingredient list on product labels for talc and choose a talc-free alternative if concerned.
Joanne Kotsopoulos, Canada Research Chair in hereditary breast and ovarian cancer prevention at Toronto’s Women’s College Research Institute said researchers hypothesize that talc, when applied to a woman’s perineum, may enter the reproductive tract and inflame the ovaries, which could lead to a higher cancer risk. While the risks are likely small, women should avoid applying products containing talc to their genital area, Dr. Kotsopoulos said.
Steven Narod, director of the familial breast cancer research unit at Women’s College Research Institute, said he thinks the risks of talc-containing products are being blown out of proportion and unnecessarily alarming women.
Anita Koushik, a researcher at the environmental epidemiology and population health research group at the Centre de recherche du CHUM in Montreal, echoed the advice to avoid using talc, particularly near the genital area, but said there’s no reason for women who have used it to panic.
So, really, there is no reason for alarm or panic. Just make sure you don't inhale talc, and refrain from using it on a daily basis near the genital area. Health Canada will look into this and act accordingly. If their investigation reveals cause for concern, appropriate measures will be taken and a Public Health notice will be posted. It is possible you will see additional warnings that are mandated by Health Canada.
In the mean time, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to post in the comment box below.
Healthcare Consultant, in4MED
The author of this blog post is a Physician with over 10 years of experience working in the healthcare system as a clinician, researcher and educator. She is passionate about healthcare for older adults and strives to be a resourceful inspiration to caregivers.
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