baby blue eyes

Like many of you, I have been known to use a talc based powder  (AKA “baby powder” to some) after a shower or on hot days and such. Many use talc powders after they hit the gym and take a shower. And of course, many a parent has used it with infants to help prevent diaper rash. Sounds like a bad joke, but that’s what a recent report suggests: small amounts of asbestos is detected in talc powder. Yes, the stuff people have been putting on themselves and their babies for many decades. Worse yet, the major manufacturer of Baby Powder apparently knew about it for decades, and didn’t divulge it to the public. Talc has been associated with some cancers, but the connection was tenuous at best, now we may know why.
Baby-PowderUntil we have all the details, I’d recommend people avoid all talc based powders for now. I rarely put out a public service announcement like this until I have all the facts – knowing all too well how the media has no problems twisting the facts to fit an agenda and ratings – but I felt it was warranted in this case.

BTW, In case people think that’s a rare event, read my prior article on the poor quality control found in the pharmaceutical industry  for examples of negligence that reach criminal levels you never hear about. Next time someone tells you the supplement industry is dangerous because it’s “unregulated” (1) I’d recommend you send them to that article.

Via the NYT’s:

The memos were concise and direct.

An executive at Johnson & Johnson said the main ingredient in its best-selling baby powder could potentially be contaminated by asbestos, the dangerous mineral that can cause cancer. He recommended to senior staff in 1971 that the company “upgrade” its quality control of talc.
Two years later, another executive raised a red flag, saying the company should no longer assume that its talc mines were asbestos-free. The powder, he said, sometimes contained materials that ‘might be classified as asbestos fiber.’
The carcinogen which often appears underground near talc, has been a concern inside the company for decades. In hundreds of pages of memos, executives worried about a potential government ban of talc, the safety of the product and a public backlash over Johnson’s Baby Powder, a brand built on a reputation for trustworthiness and health.
Executives proposed new testing procedures or replacing talc outright, while trying to discredit research suggesting that the powder could be contaminated with asbestos, according to corporate documents unearthed by litigation, government records obtained by The New York Times through the Freedom of Information Act, and interviews with scientists and lawyers.

In one instance, Johnson & Johnson demanded that the government block unfavorable findings from being made public. An executive ultimately won assurances from an official at the Food and Drug Administration that the findings would be issued only “over my dead body,” a memo summarizing the meeting said.


(1) While far from perfect, the fact is, the supplement industry is regulated far more than most are aware of.


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