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Lawsuits call attention to potential new carcinogen (1)

One of the most devastating aspects of asbestos and its ability to inflict serious physical harm is the fact that, for many years, asbestos was an integral component of many products, structures and industries. This meant that it was not only builders, workers and government employees who experienced asbestos exposure and a resulting elevated risk of mesothelioma and other harm. It also the people who lived in buildings constructed with asbestos, family members of workers that handled asbestos and millions of others who came into incidental contact with the dangerous fibers who suffered as a result.

So it would seem that, knowing what we now know about the dangers of widely-used products that later turn out to carry life-threatening risks, we would take every effort and precaution to prevent other potentially dangerous products from causing harm. Unfortunately, that is not the case, and there is one prime example of our failure to learn from our mistakes that is making its way through the U.S. civil court system: talc.

Talc, short for talcum powder, is found in many personal care and cosmetic products such as makeup and baby powder. It is used to absorb moisture, improve a product's texture and longevity, prevent caking and the like. Many Americans, especially women, use talc in their everyday lives with no knowledge of its potentially dangerous side effects.

However, this danger has long been known. In 1993, the National Toxicology Program reported that cosmetic-grade talc caused tumors in animal test subjects. The Cancer Prevention Coalition has also reported that talc is a cancer-causing agent that is "closely related to the potent carcinogen asbestos," and that it has been linked to ovary and lung tumors.

We will continue our discussion of this topic in a second blog post later this week.

Source: The Huffington Post, "A Puff, Poof or Dab of Danger," Indie Lee, Nov. 6, 2012

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