What has the federal government done about the threat of ovarian cancer caused by talcum powder? Have any talcum powder products been recalled?

Unfortunately, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the federal agency that regulates cosmetics in the U.S., has done very little about products made with talc. There have been no recalls of talcum powder products based on the link between talc and cancer. The FDA is notoriously conservative when it comes to labelling products as dangerous. The lone public inquiry performed by the FDA sought to determine whether talcum powder products contained asbestos. After testing 34 cosmetics, including face and body powders, and four samples of cosmetic-grade raw material talc, the FDA said its study was inconclusive. The agency said its results “do not prove that most or all talc or talc-containing cosmetic products currently marketed in the United States are likely to be free of asbestos contamination.” The FDA said it will continue to monitor information and take steps to protect the public safety as warranted.

Elsewhere, the federal government’s National Toxicology Program continues to decline to list talc in its Report on Carcinogens. In a previous report, the NTP said confusion in the scientific literature over the mineral nature of talc was reason to not include it but did acknowledge “human epidemiological studies reporting an increased risk of ovarian cancer among women using talc for personal use.”

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