Talcum powder has been making headlines lately, but it's not a new ingredient. It's been used for centuries and can be found in a slew of consumer products, from dry shampoo and blush to baby powder. But what is talc, exactly? It's a mineral that is made up of silicon, oxygen, and magnesium and is meant to absorb moisture (therefore preventing rashes). In its natural state, talc can contain asbestos, which is a known carcinogen — but according to the American Cancer Society, commercial products containing talc have been asbestos-free since the 1970s.
Prosecutors say Johnson & Johnson knew about the risk since the early 1980s and did not protect its customers. In fact, the first study conducted on talc powder use on female genitalia found a 92 percent increased risk for ovarian cancer with women who reported genital talc use. But still, other doctors disagree. "Several decades of medical research do not support the hypothesis that use of talcum powder causes ovarian cancer," said Dr. Hal Lawrence, chief executive officer of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
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