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WHO Agency Says Talc is ‘Probably’ cancer-causing – Inkl

Johnson & Johnson will remove its baby powder in North America by 2020, after talc was found to cause cancer. (Credit : AFP).

On Friday, the World Health Organization’s Cancer Agency classified talc for humans as “probably cancerous”. However, an expert outside of the organization warned against misinterpreting this announcement as a smoking gun.

IARC, WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, said that the decision was made based on “limited” evidence that talc can cause ovarian carcinoma in humans. “Sufficient” evidence showed it to be linked with cancer in rats, and “strong” mechanistic evidence it causes cancerous signs in human cell lines.

Talc is an naturally occurring mineral that is mined all over the world. It is used in many products, including talcum powder for babies.

According to IARC, based in Lyon, most people are exposed by talc through baby powder and cosmetics.

The report added that the main exposure to talc comes from talc being mined, processed, or used in products.

According to the agency, numerous studies have consistently shown an increase in ovarian cancer among women who use talc in their genital areas.

It was not possible to rule out the possibility that some talc used in studies contained asbestos, which causes cancer.

The Lancet Oncology published the findings of the agency that talc is not a causal agent.

Kevin McConway is a statistician from the UK’s Open University who was not involved in the research. He warned that the IARC’s assessment “is actually misleading” if the “most obvious interpretation”.

He said that the agency’s only goal is to “answer the question whether the substance can cause cancer under certain conditions which IARC does not specify.”

The studies were observational, and therefore could not prove causality. “There is no smoking gun” that talc usage causes an increased cancer risk.

This announcement comes only weeks after Johnson & Johnson, a US cosmetics and pharmaceutical giant, agreed to pay $700 millions to settle allegations that it misled its customers about the safety talcum-based products.

Johnson & Johnson has not admitted wrongdoing despite the fact that it will remove the product from North American markets in 2020.

In a summary of studies that covered 250,000 women from the United States in 2020, there was no statistical correlation between talc use on genitals or ovarian carcinogens.

IARC also classified acrylonitrile (a chemical compound that is used to produce polymers) as “carcinogenic for humans”, the highest level of warning.

The report cited “sufficient proof” that acrylonitrile causes lung cancer.

Polymers made from acrylonitrile can be found in carpets, clothes, plastics, and many other consumer goods.