People who are repeatedly exposed to cosmetics containing talcum powder are at greater risk of developing mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer linked to asbestos exposure, according to a new study conducted by researchers with Peninsula Pathology Associates, Department of Pathology, in Newport News, Virginia.

“Cosmetic talc products can contain asbestos, which is the primary cause of malignant mesothelioma,” Dr. Theresa S. Emory told Emory and her team investigated 75 patients with malignant mesothelioma whose only known exposure to asbestos was repeated use of cosmetics containing talcum powder.

“Mesotheliomas can develop following repeated exposures to cosmetic talcum powder. This is likely due to the presence of asbestos contaminating cosmetic talcum powders,” Emory said. “In addition, cosmetic talc may account for a percentage of the malignant mesotheliomas previously reported as ‘idiopathic,’ especially in women.”

About 16% of the patients were younger than 45 — on average, 11 years younger than predicted by SEERS data, the authoritative source for cancer statistics in the U.S. “The asbestos fibers in tissue samples that were examined in 11 cases were identical (anthophyllite and tremolite) to those identified in cosmetic talc.”

Emory supports larger scale, controlled studies to better assess mesothelioma risk in people regularly exposed to talc in cosmetics, and recommends the FDA consider strictly regulating or banning talcum powder products containing asbestos.

Asbestos is a mineral that is mined from the earth in much the same manner and, sometimes, the same proximity as talc. Testing on talc-containing products, including Johnson’s Baby Powder, has shown that talc can become contaminated with asbestos.

Beasley Allen lawyers Ted Meadows and Leigh O’Dell are heading up the team handling claims of ovarian cancer linked to talcum powder use for feminine hygiene. Our attorneys are also handling mesothelioma claims. They are looking at cases of industrial, occupational and secondary asbestos exposure resulting in lung cancer or mesothelioma as well as claims of asbestos-related talc products linked to mesothelioma.

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