Baby Powder: Killing You Softly?

David K. Israel

The Greeks used it to construct building materials. The Romans used it to clean up blood after gladiator contests. King Charlemagne is said to have sprinkled it in with egg whites to keep his hair stiff and glistening on the battlefield, a sort of ancient-school mousse. Yes, talc has been used in one way or another for centuries. Besides being the main ingredient in baby powder, these days talc can be found in everything from flea and tick powders to deodorants, chalk and crayons, soap, and circuit boards. It's used in home insulation material and as filler in paper. Ceramic tiles contain talc, as do paints and even some of that dust you find on certain sticks of chewing gum.

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However, in 1982, Johnson & Johnson admitted that they knew of some of these studies that concluded that woman who frequently applied talc products to their genitals had a three-fold increased risk of ovarian cancer.

(from August 12, 1982 New York Times article).

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