An explosive new report by Reuters may upturn the narrative surrounding the potential cancer risks of talcum powder.
According to the report, Johnson & Johnson—the makers of the most popular consumer talc product, Baby Powder—knew for decades that its products at times contained carcinogenic asbestos, but did everything possible to keep its findings shrouded from the public and even health officials.
The report’s allegations are sourced from hundreds of internal company documents, according to Reuters, which the news agency has also made available to the public.
Many of the documents were obtained during the course of legal battles waged against Johnson & Johnson over the years by customers alleging its products had caused their cancers; others were obtained by various journalists and news organizations.
Collectively, the documents seem to paint a damning picture of the company’s actions—and inaction—surrounding its products.
Talc is a soft white clay pulled up from the earth in mines. In these mines, asbestos—a broad term for six kinds of minerals that can be found in long, thin fibers—is regularly found alongside deposits of talc.
But for decades, the company assured the public and regulators that its products were free of asbestos, even as some internal and independent tests found otherwise, according to the report.