why do they say not to use baby powder
Is talc dangerous for babies? (archived)
What is talc? Talc (hydrous magnesium silicate) is a soft greenish grey mineral found throughout the world. Itвs crushed, dried and milled to create talcum powder. In its raw form, talc is often contaminated with asbestos (a known carcinogen) and crystalline silica. In theory, contaminants are removed during the purification process but in reality some of these dangerous substances remain. Talc particles have the potential to enter and lodge themselves in the body -- reports focus on lungs and ovaries -- and cause tumours, lesions and other damage. Another safety issue relates to accidental inhalation of the powder: itвs said to dry out the lining of the lungs and can obstruct small airways, resulting in respiratory distress or even death. Accidental inhalation of talc is a fairly common reason for people phoning a poisons information centre. A typical scenario involves an infant grabbing the talc container while having their nappy changed, and shaking the powder around before parents can stop them. Symptoms are flu-like (cough, fever, runny nose) and start about four to six hours after inhalation; hospitalisation may be required.
Babies have died from the effects. Recent studies have suggested a link between use of talc and ovarian cancer, with the risk of ovarian cancer up to double among those using talc (the lifetime risk of ovarian cancer for Australian women is approximately 1%). But other studies have found no increase in risk and say thereвs no link. Research supporting the talc-ovarian cancer link found that using talc on any part of the body elevates ovarian cancer risk, as does using it on sanitary products and underwear. So using it around babyвs bottom area probably isnвt a great idea. Itвs not clear why cancers form, although talc shares chemical similarities to asbestos (and before the mid-seventies, when many of us were babies, may even have contained asbestos). So if talc does cause cancers, they may be related to those resulting from asbestos exposure. Despite a lack of definitive evidence, it would seem prudent to avoid using talcum powder if thereвs an alternative (such as a cream), especially on girls. If you use it, be careful в try to minimise airborne particles and keep the container out of your babyвs reach. A cornstarch-based powder may be suitable, but itвs still a risk if inhaled. ) raditionally used on babies' bottoms and by older women, talcum powder is a soft, sweet-smelling way of keeping skin dry and avoiding rashes.
Yet it may have more troubling effects. Research has been rumbling on for more than a decade, looking at whether the talc in talcum powder can cause cancer. Last week involving almost 2,000 women found an increased risk of between 20% and 30% for ovarian cancer in women who used talc for what some newspapers reporting the study call "intimate personal hygiene" but doctors call the genital area. So should we stop dusting talc? The solution The talc in talcum powder comes from the crushing, drying and milling of mined talc rocks and contains minerals such as magnesium and silicon. Such products used to contain asbestos (which causes mesotheliomas в rare cancers of the tissues around the lungs). Now all talcum powder is free of it, although it. Talcum powder absorbs moisture and reduces friction в which is why it protects skin. It can also travel, and is easy to inhale when you're pouring it on. When applied to the genital area it travels through the vagina, into the uterus and along the fallopian tubes to the ovaries.
To find out if a substance causes cancer, evidence usually comes from studies on animals (in this case tests on mice and hamsters have not been conclusive) or from comparing rates of cancer in two groups of people, one group exposed to the talc and one who have not been. This study, in, does not find a direct link between how much talc was used and the risk of cancer: use ranged from daily to occasional. It does, however, support other work, such as an analysis in 2003 combining data from 16 studies, which found a. Studies tend to show that only certain types of ovarian cancer are increased. Overall, however, the risk is likely to be small. An so a 30% increase would only marginally raise this figure. The, part of the World Health Organisation, classifies talcs as "possibly carcinogenic to humans" based on studies of genital use. I'm not a fan of talc but it's likely to be a very small health risk. However, avoid applying it to your underwear or sanitary towels to prevent prolonged exposure. Whether you still want to dust your baby's bottom with it is up to you в but I would just dry thoroughly.
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