Health Canada finds talc powder linked to ovarian cancer and lung damage

Dec 5 2018, 8:59 pm

Health Canada has announced that talc –the mineral found in baby powder and cosmetics — could pose serious health risks.

On Wednesday, Health Canada released a report on its draft screening assessment of talc, determining that breathing in loose talc power could damage the lungs and possibly cause ovarian cancer.

“Based on this draft assessment, current scientific evidence indicates that inhalation exposure to loose powder products containing talc such as baby, body, face and foot powders may cause non-cancerous lung effects such as coughing, breathing difficulties, and decreased lung function,” said Health Canada, in a release.

However, Health Canada clarified that talc products that do not create dust clouds — such as pressed powder — are not linked to lung damage.

The health agency also found talc was linked to ovarian cancer if applied to the female genital area.

“Several published meta-analyses consistently reported a small but positive association with ovarian cancer and perineal talc use.”

The assessment did not find any risks to products containing talc taken by mouth (such as prescription medication) or talc contacting the skin (excluding the female genital area).

Health Canada is advising individuals of the following:

  • Avoid inhaling loose talc powders
  • Avoid using products containing talc in the female genital area
  • Keep baby powder away from a child’s face to avoid inhalation
  • Check the ingredient list on product labels for talc and choose a talc-free alternative if concerned.

The draft screening assessment will be published online on December 8. Health Canada is inviting the public to comment on the report until February 6, 2019.

Following the consultation period, a final screening assessment will take place and if it confirms that talc in certain products is harmful to human health, the federal government “will take action to manage the risks identified.”

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