Talcum powder is a commonly used consumer product, typically manufactured by mixing talc, a clay-based mineral, with corn starch. The powder has long been used in baby powder, by athletes to dry sweating hands, and as a personal hygiene application.
As early as 1971, a medical study found elements of talc in ovarian tumors. Other studies have suggested a link between the use of talcum powder and both lung and ovarian cancer.
Some research suggests that the risks of cancer tied to talcum powder stem from the proximity of the clay-based material to underground deposits of asbestos. Though an FDA survey found no evidence of asbestos in a number of talcum powders, a more recent Reuters investigation alleges that at least one manufacturer knew its powder contained asbestos for decades.
To date, neither the FDA nor any other American government agency has issued any warnings or sought to remove any talcum-based products from the market. The International Agency for Research on Cancer identified talcum powder as a possible human carcinogen in 2006.