I am pretty sure you have heard about the high-profile lawsuits focused around the possible link between baby powder and cancer. In particular, more than 4,800 women claim that using talcum-based baby powder for a long period of time for hygiene purposes caused them to get ovarian cancer and some have received significant retribution from Johnson and Johnson.
Needless to say, researchers have been working hard to understand exactly the magnitude of health risk talcum-based powders may have on humans and since the science remains spotty, consumers are left to their own judgement whether to discontinue use - making the case for buying natural, organic baby products.
Talcum powders contain talc, which consist of moisture-absorbing particles of oxygen, magnesium and silicon. Asbestos, a known carcinogen that sometimes appears in natural talc, was stripped from all commercially used talc in the 1970s, according to the American Cancer Society. However, although asbestos is no longer used in baby powder, scientists have demonstrated the potential for absorption of talc by the reproductive system which can cause inflammation in the ovaries when applied for feminine hygiene purposes.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO) has concluded that “Based on limited evidence from human studies of a link to ovarian cancer, IARC classifies the perineal (genital) use of talc-based body powder as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
Interestingly, there hasn’t been much news about the harmful effect talc-based baby powder may have on babies as there will never be a study in which scientists deliberately expose babies over time to talcum powder to see if they develop cancer or not. However, it would be worthwhile to learn about the incidence of cancer among people who have been exposed to talc-based powders during their childhood. There have been studies that demonstrate respiratory risk because talc-based powders are made of fine particles that can be inhaled, which can cause irritation in the lungs and inflammation. Even small amounts of powder can irritate a baby's tiny lungs – especially if the baby is at high risk for respiratory illness.
Children are exposed to 61 chemicals in personal care products alone, 27 of which have not been found safe for kids, according to a national survey by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). This means that every time you slather shampoo on your child or put lotion on them, you are exposing them to chemicals that could harm their health. Even though they are likely small exposures at each bath time, over time these exposures add up and may contribute to disease.
Although some baby products smell so fresh and clean, these fragrances have been linked to allergies, skin irritation and eczema, and organ toxicity. Phthalates and parabens used in some baby products are chemicals that have been linked to endocrine disruption, which can cause reproductive harm and cancer.
Babies born now are more toxic than any other time due to inheriting the toxic load of their mothers. One study by the EWG found that blood samples from newborns contained an average of 287 toxins, including mercury, fire retardants, pesticides, and Teflon chemicals!!
Of the 287 chemicals EWG detected in umbilical cord blood, it’s known that:
• 180 cause cancer in humans or animals
• 217 are toxic to your brain and nervous system
• 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests
Experts believe rising rates of birth defects, asthma, neuro-developmental disorders and other serious diseases in U.S. children are a result of these early chemical exposures.
Due to conflicting research outcomes on talc-based powders causing cancer, parents should use the precautionary principle and stop using them. Johnson and Johnson itself has created a new powder made with cornstarch which has been determined to be safe however other powders, including cornstarch-based powders, can also be inhaled so buyer beware. If you choose to use baby powder make sure it does not use talc. Try to buy natural baby care products or the best organic baby products you can find to reduce toxic exposure to your little one.
Here are some of our favorite natural baby care products: