What’s This Big Debate About Baby Powder?

baby infant

Ask a new mom about diaper bag essentials, and chances are that baby powder is going to be present in at least 90% of the answers. We all know it – when we talk baby powder we automatically think of the iconic white bottle of Johnson and Johnson baby powder – we’ve used it while growing up, have seen our mothers use it and now we use it for our kids. But why are headlines all over the world suddenly talking about the link between Johnson’s baby powder & cancer?

Surely, a company that has been around for more than 125 years cannot create a product that causes cancer! Johnson & Johnson baby powder has been used across generations to prevent diaper rashes – so then surely these cancer reports are all wrong?

Headlines are a-plenty, each one murkier than the other and now these terms ‘Johnson baby powder’ & ‘cancer’ have connected in the news – but how much of these reports are actually true? As a parent, one starts wondering – are any talc based products safe to use?

But there is also a conundrum – for every news item that has ‘Johnson’s Baby Powder’ and ‘cancer’ in the headline, there is also one that says several regulatory Governmental and non – Governmental organizations, independent laboratories and universities across the world have deemed it absolutely safe to use.

Doctors across the world also say that they are more concerned with how parents are using the talc on their babies – as improper application may lead to inhalation which would prove to be harmful. That’s why the bottle of Johnson’s Baby Powder specifies clearly the directions to apply the same to kids – to prevent inhalation and protect kid’s lungs.

While there are certain other alternatives like cornstarch, etc. – but there are always risks of contamination in any product. At least with the Johnson’s baby powder, it is definite that it is manufactured in factories under strict guidelines from authorities that would make contamination almost nil and hence safe to use on our kids. Of course, keeping babies dry by changing them frequently and off wet and soiled diapers is always recommended, but using a powder like Johnson & Johnson’s just increases the overall freshness factor.

In doing the research for this article because of concerns of asbestos finding in talc, as per some reports, we came across an article on TOI, that comprehensively puts to rest any fears that we have about Johnsons’ baby powder causing cancer:

All talcum powder in the world is made of talc (also appears in a lot of makeup products), a naturally occurring mineral. It has an inherent ability to absorb moisture and is found in underground deposits that often also contain asbestos, a known carcinogen. But Johnson’s representatives have repeatedly said that the talc used in Johnson’s Baby Powder does not contain asbestos and there are innumerable tests, reports, etc. to prove this. The company has opened up their plants to investigators and subjected their product to every kind of test possible and it has come up clean in every way.

Wins, losses and mistrials in court notwithstanding, Johnson’s Baby Powder does not cause cancer – a fact that has been testified with the topmost regulatory bodies across the world from various consumer industries. The raw materials that go into making the powder are regularly tested to ensure their appropriateness – as the article referenced above clearly states.

Causes of cancer are certainly not black and white, and gynaecologists from across the world agree there is not one single definite piece of evidence that links Johnson’s baby powder to cancer. The product is modern, has gone through constant innovations since it was first launched, has been tested multiple times and now there is so much attention to the issue – so of course there is no doubt that it is safe to use and Johnson’s baby powder does not cause cancer.

What’s more important at this point of time is to bring attention to the ways in which doctors can intervene and tell all their patients about ovarian cancer, to bring women to a better and safer place rather than just focussing on the talc that clearly has no association with cancer.

As for parents, they need to know that Johnson’s baby powder does not cause cancer and is the safest solution to those brutal baby rashes – as long as they are judicious and careful about how they apply it and keep babies far away from the plume of talc in the air.