February 24th, 2016

The Facts About Talc Safety

Johnsons_baby_powderBaby Powder made from cosmetic talc is one of JOHNSON’s oldest products and a longtime part of baby care rituals. JOHNSON’s Baby Powder continues to be popular with adults as well, and in many parts of the world, it remains an essential part of the makeup and skin care routines. With over 100 years of use, few ingredients have the same demonstrated performance, mildness and safety profile as cosmetic talc.

We wanted to take this opportunity to share the facts about talc, so you’re well-informed.

  • JOHNSON’s talc products do not contain asbestos. A frequent misperception is that JOHNSON’s Baby Powder contains talc made with asbestos, a substance classified as cancer-causing. Since the 1970s, talc used in consumer products has been required to be asbestos-free.  JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder products contain only U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) grade talc, which meets the highest quality, purity and compliance standards.
  • The safety of talc is based on a long history of safe use and decades of research by independent researchers and scientific review boards.  Talc is accepted as safe for use in cosmetic and personal care products by the European Union, Canada and many other countries around the world, among them Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Israel, South Africa, Turkey and Indonesia.The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), which identifies potential risk factors for many diseases, has not identified talc as a risk factor for ovarian cancer.
  • The Nurses’ Health Study (2010) and the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Cohort (2014), the only two large-scale prospective studies looking at talc and ovarian cancer, found no causal relationship between talc and ovarian cancer.

What is Talc?

Talc, commonly known as talcum powder, is a naturally occurring mineral. Chemically referred to as hydrated magnesium silicate, it has the formula H2Mg3(SiO3)4 or Mg3Si4O10(OH)2. Talc is a highly stable, chemically inert, odorless white powder. It is the world’s softest mineral.

The grade of talc used in cosmetics is of high purity, comparable to that used for pharmaceutical applications, and is free from asbestos and asbestiform fibers. Cosmetic grade talc is only mined from select deposits from certified locations, and milled to relatively large, non-respirable particles size.

Why and Where is Talc Used?

The most common cosmetic application for talc is in face, body, and baby powders.   Talc has a characteristic soft, silky, and dry feel. The softness is derived from the unusual sheet like crystals, which easily glide past each other. The surfaces of individual crystal sheets are hydrophobic, while the edges are hydrophilic. On the skin, talc absorbs both oils and water, gives a cooling sensation, and helps to prevent chafing.

Other applications include color cosmetics, soaps, toothpastes, antiperspirants, chewing gum, and drug tablets.

Our sources for talc undergo comprehensive qualification. The incoming talc is routinely evaluated using a sophisticated battery of tests designed to ensure quality, safety, and compliance with all global standards.

For more information, please visit Facts About Talc.


49 Responses to “The Facts About Talc Safety”

  1. Jeannie Whitfield says

    I have been using J&J Baby Talc daily since 1951 non-stop except for surgery (No perfume) and have never had a single problem and yes it’s mainly for my private parts with great success at being hygenic. I am now 85 and to date I have not had one instance of discomfort or whatever from the use of your talcum. There must be thousands like myself so why not hold a survey about us? Count me in as your first one if you do. Gratefully from,

  2. Vivian Carter says

    I used Johnson & Johnson Shower to Shower everyday for many years when I worked. First started in 1979 & used it for 28 years. I did get ovarian cancer in 2001…..got over it & diagnosed again with breast cancer in 2013. I have a gene called the BRCA gene so my ovarian cancer WAS NOT related to the powder……have these women been tested for the BRCA gene…might want to consider that before you pay out a lot of money when it wasn’t your fault. Your product is fabulous. Praying things will turn out in your favor.

  3. Seywonh Smith says

    Loss my Mom in Aug at the age of 71, she used Baby powder and shower to shower powder for years for feminine hygiene. I do not have BRCA 1 or 2 gene nor did she. She died from Ovarian Cancer, shame on Johnson & Johnson for killing my Mom for a buck.

  4. Jennie Marie says

    I believe your article and stats. So why have you lost a lawsuit regarding talc causing cancer? I’m confused.

  5. Praput Chivapornthip says

    I have chances to deal business with J&J production site since 8 years ago, I learn that J&J has business mind set on producing high quality and high safety products (J&J Credo). All raw materials, product packagings, production process and quality control need to be tested and verified before products can launch. This give me confident in J&J products especially the Powder, as this product is jn the market for very long time, if this could cause any health problems then millions of people who use powder on daily life should diagnosed with cancer.

    Fully confident in J&J products and will continue to use them. 🙂

  6. Looking for alternatives says

    I’ve been using Johnson and Johnson powder since I was born. I’m terrified now to use the talc powder despite these assurances. Your US Store has a lot of cornstarch powder products on display, but I can’t find any in my country. On a personal note, I feel deeply betrayed by this company which I associated with care and comfort. To read reports that executives knew of a causal link between talc and ovarian cancer as early as the 1980s leaves me saddened and distressed.

  7. Oswald Osborne says

    Millions of people worldwide use talc and have never developed cancer. This lawsuit and jury award set a dangerous precedent and I have no doubt will be overturned on appeal.

  8. Stephan Morin says

    I am concerned that J&J decided to settle this claim. Like most corporation they will deny liability of their product to avoid disclosure of the truth. And of course the plaintiff will be held and gagged from talking about the settlement also. J&J needs to open up the files, admit that their product is causing health issues and rebuild the trust that was bestowed on them for many years. Till then, I will NOT be using any of their products.

  9. Appeal The $72M Verdict says

    The American Cancer Society website says some studies show a slightly increased risk and some studies show no risk. They also mention that some of the the studies are flawed because they rely on memory of product use over the years. It is an ongoing area of research.

    I do not agree with the verdict.

  10. nice says

    we are a family that uses j and j products in our household..we were alarmed by the news re: missouri court issued your comopany for 72m damage for the ovarian cancer victim..pls enlighten us with this

  11. Scott M says

    I used baby powder on all my children and continue to use it myself today. I don’t see changing to anything else. Please explain how or why you believe J&J lost this lawsuit?

  12. Asok Kumar says

    Company like J&J has their core values of business around its” Credo” where the users comes first. There is no way this could be true. The current is proving hardcore scientific evidence wrong.

  13. Bob Brock-Kelly says

    Ridiculous decision.

    By this logic, you might as well make it mandatory for all mobile phone manufacturers to put a warning sticker on mobile phones saying “CELLPHONES CAUSE CANCER, PLEASE USE SPARINGLY”.

  14. Wendy Delange, South Africa says

    I have been using J&j talc all of my adult life, and I have never had a problem. I get allergic reaction from a lot of other products, but never talc.

  15. Linda du Plessis says

    I have been using J&J products all my life (65 yrs old) and have had no problem so far. Allergic reaction from many other products. I have a very sensitive skin.

  16. Linda du Plessis says

    I have been using J&J products for 65 years without any problems. Get allergic skin reactions from many other products.(Even allergic to preservatives especially sulphates etc in food and medicine when taken.) Why does J&J work for me?

  17. Kevin says

    What a crock… Some people just believe anything they hear or read. So shame on you. And of course the lawyers are out to “Make A Buck” off of anyone they can. Really people… according to the statements that come out daily, what doesn’t cause cancer. If you were paranoid about everything you hear that causes cancer, you wouldn’t eat, drink, breath or use any products. Stop being so ridiculously gullible… wake up and use some common sense. I still stand by J&J and their products.

  18. Fredy A. says

    Johnson’s Baby Powder is used by babys around the world and they are the future world,and have never had a problem.the healt is first at j&j.

  19. Lita Vessio says

    I have been using J&J baby powder daily since I was born, both on my private parts and under my breasts, especially during hot weather conditions. I am 62 years old and have, to date, had no problems (thank God) to date. I also used baby powder on all three of my children when they were small and now I’m feeling guilty that I may have harmed my daughter unknowingly by using this product. I will be following this story closely to be able to make an informed decision as to whether or not I will continue to use J&J baby powder.

  20. MJR says

    JNJ Team, Can you please plan some awareness sessions immediately across the globe, as people throwing your products out of their shelf’s and recommending others not to use them as it is extremely dangerous for kids because used material can cause cancer…

    I am big fan of your products throughout of my life and also, using your products for my kids. But after circulated news, you know, i am also bit confused and thinking about alternate options, as this is the matter of kids safety…

  21. R. Suarez says

    I have been using J& J products all my my life ( 40 yrs old ). After taking a shower it’s a routine for me to use a J&J talc powder. I have very sensitive skin even with smell I have reaction right away. But so far with all J&J I feel safe using their products. There are many factors that can cause ovarian cancer maybe they can check on genetics, check the ingredients of the tampoons, perineal wash or panty liners. J & J is the powerhouse in healthcare industry most of their baby products are developed by their finest scientists into purest & gentlest baby products to match with newborn sensitive skin. I will continue to use J & J products.

  22. Jessca says

    There is nothing more important to Johnson and Johnson than their customers and employees( read their Credo.) They sell many other medical products beyond the baby items. If thr powder was harmful, they would have pulled it a long time ago with very small impact to their sales.

  23. Boo says

    I pray that Johnson and Johnson will overcome this bad publicity. Thank you for the huge difference you have made to people’s lives especially in South Africa. May you continue to grow as a company and may God bless your efforts

  24. Wolfram Quintero says

    Excellent and safety product – J&J talc.
    That decision is ridiculous and stupid, showing the very lower technical knowledge of pseudo-technicians, that advise the judge.

  25. Elizabeth Foley-Saxon says

    My husband, daughters and I have used Johnson’s baby powder for many, many years. I just learned of the association between talc and ovarian cancer, and I’m SO disappointed. Even if the risk is small, it’s too much risk to assume. Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of gynecological cancers! The moment that this risk became known, J&J should’ve taken action. This is NOT what you did. You put the bottom line of your corporation before the health of your customers. Our bottles of powder have gone into the trash, and I have purchased talc-free powder. Shame on you!

  26. Dee says

    Regarding the recently settled lawsuit, I gave J&J the benefit of the doubt even though they lost. I reasoned that the plaintiff had started using their baby powder decades ago; at that time it was not yet known that it contained unsafe elements. I thought J&J changed the composition of their baby powder as soon as they knew. Am I incorrect?

  27. Lynn Richards says

    I am 49 yrs old and I have used j&j talc all my life and my mother used it on all my siblings including herself.
    Now I have had cervical cancer and been treated , not the talc fault.
    My mother had demita and cervical cancer also not the talc fault.
    I also a few years ago had to have my ovaries and tubes removed due to pre cancerous cells.
    Once again not the talc fault.
    Really ppl not trying to be uncaring,but everyone dies of something , sometimes it’s just life in fact the circle of life.
    Trying to make money off such a long shot is disgusting.

  28. DJ says

    I actually read a scientific review of previous studies, and other actual scientific studies about talcum powder and cancer risk.

    Here is a list of problems with the studies that found an increased risk of ovarian cancer for people who use talcum powder:
    1. Other factors were not controlled for – in other words, no effort was made to control for factors like being BRCA1 positive, or obesity. (Obesity can really muddle the results, as heavier people may be more likely to use talcum powder AND are definitely at higher risk for cancer.)
    2. The way the powder was used – amount, placement, panties/no panties, etc – was not controlled for.
    3. Studies find NO link between talcum powder on diaphragms and condoms and an increased risk of ovarian cancer. And these are two products that introduce the talc directly into the reproductive system, instead of only on the outside. If talcum powder has a causal effect, and not just a correlation, then studies of these two products should also show a relationship between use and cancer, and in theory, it should be an even stronger relationship. They do not show any such relationship.
    4. The theory that the powder travels UP the vagina into the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries makes very little sense – as it goes against both gravity and the normal directional flow of mucus in that area.
    5. Studies showing talcum found in ovaries / ovarian cancer samples did not control for whether the talcum was fresh – which would indicate it came off someone’s gloves during the selection of the sample – or was older.
    6. It has been shown that asbestos can travel to the ovaries from the lungs. Now, asbestos is very different than talcum powder in very important ways, but talcum could also travel from the lungs to the ovaries if the person using it breathed it in. This could explain how it is sometimes found in the ovaries. But it still does not show any kind of link between the use of talcum and the development of cancer.

    The outcome of the trial against J&J has no positive correlation to the actual science surrounding the issue.


  29. Stanley Dove says

    I worked in the plant that makes the J&J Baby Powder in Georgia. The Johnson’s Baby Powder operation was relocated to the Georgia Plant in 1977, I was heavily involved with the project during the relocation and start up and up until I was selected to support the Oral Care project in the Georgia plant in 1997. I have been covered from head to toe in Baby powder at the end of the shift for many days, particularly when we would have to service or repair the equipment, and or when process modifications were implemented, or if for some reason we had a malfunction of process equipment, which will occasionally happen with any equipment, even though we had modern and updated dust collection and processes we still experienced times when we breathed some suspended particles of powder. I still use it to reduce sweating and chaffing when working outside on my farm, and I have not had any problems in any way. I retired from the company in December 2006. The company always stressed the importance of producing products that are of the highest quality and safe when used as directed. All the people that I worked with in the Georgia plant held the upmost concern for the quality and safety of the products we produced for our customers. And I don’t know of any of my co-workers that worked in the Baby Powder and Shower To Shower production area that have suffered any adverse effects from working in the Georgia Plant and a lot of those people are well into their 70’s and some into their 80’s and still very active as was evident at our recent retirees banquet. So I have serious doubts that the person the died from Cervical Cancer was caused by Johnson’s Baby Powder or Shower To Shower. The Lawyers for that family saw a company with deep pockets that convinced them to sue that the company could afford it. If you will take a look at what the lawyers fees are you will understand why, the lawyers gets 30 to 50 percent of any awarded monies paid out in the awarded damages by the court..so what does that relate to for the lawyers that suffered no health related issues or damages to their person or families….so if you had the chance to collect 20 to 30 million dollars just for throwing a reputable company under the bus, boy is that a good salary for a law group with 3 or 4 lawyers, and a few paralegals and assistances.

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