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Researchers Link Talcum Powder to Mesothelioma in Women

Over the course of the last few years more and more has been learned about the kinds of exposure responsible for causing mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is so strongly related to asbestos exposure that when a diagnosis is made the first thing a knowledgeable doctor asks is how were you exposed to asbestos. Sometimes we cant find the exposures. The defense experts say that is because there was no exposure ie –the tumor was created spontaneously. I don’t believe that. What I do believe is that we don’t know all the possible exposures even when we do our best to figure it out. The following article linking cosmetic talc to mesothelioma proves the point.

Asbestos in commercial cosmetic talcum

powder as a cause of mesothelioma in women

Ronald E. Gordon1, Sean Fitzgerald2, James Millette3

1Department of Pathology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, USA, 2SAI Laboratory,

Greensboro, NC, USA, 3MVA Inc., Duluth, GA, USA

Background: Cosmetic talcum powder products have been used for decades. The inhalation of talc may

cause lung fibrosis in the form of granulomatose nodules called talcosis. Exposure to talc has also been

suggested as a causative factor in the development of ovarian carcinomas, gynecological tumors, and


Purpose: To investigate one historic brand of cosmetic talcum powder associated with mesothelioma in


Methods: Transmission electron microscope (TEM) formvar-coated grids were prepared with concentrations

of one brand of talcum powder directly, on filters, from air collections on filters in glovebox and

simulated bathroom exposures and human fiber burden analyses. The grids were analyzed on an analytic

TEM using energy-dispersive spectrometer (EDS) and selected-area electron diffraction (SAED) to

determine asbestos fiber number and type.

Results: This brand of talcum powder contained asbestos and the application of talcum powder released

inhalable asbestos fibers. Lung and lymph node tissues removed at autopsy revealed pleural

mesothelioma. Digestions of the tissues were found to contain anthophyllite and tremolite asbestos.

Discussion: Through many applications of this particular brand of talcum powder, the deceased inhaled

asbestos fibers, which then accumulated in her lungs and likely caused or contributed to her mesothelioma

as well as other women with the same scenario.

Keywords: Asbestos, Talcum powder, Chamber test, TEM, SEM, EDS, SAED, Mesothelioma

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