Talc, also known as hydrous magnesium silicate, is a naturally occurring mineral that is mined from the earth. Made up of magnesium, silicon, oxygen and hydrogen, talc is the softest mineral on the planet.
From baby powder to makeup, talcum powder has had many uses.
For decades, parents and caregivers have sprinkled talcum powder on babies to prevent diaper rash ― a practice the American Academy of Pediatrics now advises against due to the risk of fine talc particles causing respiratory problems.
Basketball players, powerlifters, and gymnasts frequently use talcum powder on their hands for extra grip, while runners use it to prevent inner-thigh chafing. Many athletes also powder their feet and shoes with talcum powder in an effort to prevent odor and blisters.
Since the early 1900s, women have turned to talcum powder for feminine hygiene, applying it to their perineum, undergarments and sanitary napkins. Many researchers and health care providers now caution against this daily habit, pointing to a slew of studies that have linked prolonged use of talcum powder to an increased risk for ovarian cancer.
Some unconventional uses of talcum powder include removing greasy carpet stains, untangling jewelry and freshening oily hair. Talcum powder can also be found in eye shadow, blush, paint, paper, plastic and rubber.
While talcum powder is a widely used product in today’s world, it’s important to do your homework before regular use of any product. For example, healthcare conglomerate, Johnson & Johnson, cautions against inhalation of Baby Powder on its label, but says nothing about the possible link to ovarian cancer. J&J is now the subject of hundreds of lawsuits across the country, including two that resulted in multi-million dollar jury verdicts in the spring of 2016.