Malignant mesothelioma following repeated exposures to cosmetic talc: A case series of 75 patients.

American Journal of Industrial Medicine 2020 March 16 [Link]

Emory TS, Maddox JC, Kradin RL



Asbestos is the primary known cause of malignant mesothelioma. Some cosmetic talc products have been shown to contain asbestos. Recently, repeated exposures to cosmetic talc have been implicated as a cause of mesothelioma.


Seventy-five individuals (64 females; 11 males) with malignant mesothelioma, whose only known exposure to asbestos was repeated exposures to cosmetic talcum powders, were reviewed in medical-legal consultation. Out of the 75 cases, 11 were examined for asbestiform fibers.


All subjects had pathologically confirmed malignant mesothelioma. The mean age at diagnosis was 61 ± 17 years. The mean latency from exposure to diagnosis was 50 ± 13 years. The mean exposure duration was 33 ± 16 years. Four mesotheliomas (5%) occurred in individuals working as barbers/cosmetologists, or in a family member who swept the barber shop. Twelve (16%) occurred in individuals less than 45 years old (10 females; 2 males). Forty-eight mesotheliomas were pleural (40 females; 8 males), 23 were peritoneal (21 females; 2 males). Two presented with concomitant pleural and peritoneal disease. There was one pericardial, and one testicular mesothelioma. The majority (51) were of the epithelioid histological subtype, followed by 13 biphasic, 8 sarcomatoid, 2 lymphohistiocytoid, and 1 poorly differentiated. Of the 11 individuals whose nontumorous tissues were analyzed for the presence of asbestiform fibers, all showed the presence of anthophyllite and/or tremolite asbestos.


Mesotheliomas can develop following exposures to cosmetic talcum powders. These appear to be attributable to the presence of anthophyllite and tremolite contaminants in cosmetic talcum powder.