Cosmetic talcum powder, which is made up of more than 90 per cent mineral talc, is used in a range of beauty products.
These include eyeshadows, baby powders and feminine hygiene products. Talc is favoured for its ability to help a product stick to the skin and for its translucency.
The U.S. FDA consider cosmetic-grade talc to be safe, but in 1993 the National Toxicology Programme (NTP) in Britain found that rats exposed to cosmetic-grade talc via inhalation developed a range of inflammatory lung disorders, including cancer of the lungs and rare adrenal cancers.
In addition, eight studies have indicated a 30 to 60 per cent increase in the risk of developing ovarian cancer in women using talc-based body powder in the genital region.
The IARC has concluded that using talc-based body powder in this region is possibly carcinogenic to humans.