Is Titanium Dioxide in Tampons and Pads Protected?

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If you’ve got spent any time on the web within the final, oh, 72 hours, you’ve got most likely heard that titanium dioxide (TiO2)—a white powder utilized in tampons and different menstrual merchandise—is getting some severe warmth. Claims that the ingredient could also be dangerous come recent on the heels of a buzzy lawsuit in opposition to Skittles (and its father or mother firm, Mars Inc.) declaring TiO2 “unfit for human consumption.” Now, individuals on TikTok and elsewhere are questioning whether or not titanium dioxide belongs in tampons and pads, too.

“Titanium dioxide is the naturally occurring compound created when titanium reacts with oxygen within the air,” explains endocrinologist and advisor at reproductive-health firm Natalist Aimee Eyvazzadeh, MD. “As an oxide, titanium is present in minerals within the earth’s crust and can also be discovered with different parts, together with calcium and iron.”

The U.S. Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) authorised titanium dioxide for human consumption in 1966, cementing its presence in a wide range of meals, together with candies and different processed meals. It is primarily used to assist make white meals seem whiter (like milk and sweet) or to elongate the shelf lifetime of meals which can be delicate to UV gentle. (The FDA says that producers can have not more than 1 p.c TiO2 in meals.)

Nevertheless, bother arose for the ingredient in 2021 when the European Meals Security Authority (EFSA) issued a press release that titanium dioxide “might now not be thought-about secure” as a meals additive. In its report, the EFSA reported that they could not rule out the chance that titanium dioxide brought about injury to DNA (“genotoxicity”)—and thus could not set up a secure degree of day by day consumption. This discovering prompted the European Union to ban TiO2 as a meals additive earlier this yr, however within the U.S., the ingredient continues to be thought-about to be secure in meals on the limits set by the FDA.

Nevertheless, titanium dioxide is not only a in style ingredient in meals. It additionally seems in sunscreen and cosmetics, two classes during which the ingredient can also be usually thought-about secure. It is also is usually used to make issues like paint, and most related for our functions, it is used to make pads and tampons seem whiter. 

It is unclear precisely what number of manufacturers use TiO2 of their menstrual merchandise. The FDA classifies tampons and pads as medical units, and thus producers of those merchandise are really useful, however not required, to record their substances. (That is slowly altering after New York handed a regulation requiring substances lists on menstrual merchandise offered within the state). That mentioned, well-known manufacturers like Tampax and L. embody TiO2 of their merchandise, whereas manufacturers like Rael, Cora, and The Honey Pot at the moment should not have this ingredient of their pads or tampons.

So the million-dollar query: is it secure to have titanium dioxide in pads and tampons? Beneath, Dr. Eyvazzadeh and Erin Flynn, MPH, DNP/FNP, an LGBTQ+ care knowledgeable with contraception startup Favor, share the difficult fact behind this query. Simply keep in mind: You probably have any particular well being issues to weigh, it’s vital to succeed in out to your gynecologist or main care doctor to make the correct alternative for you.

What are the potential hostile well being results of titanium dioxide?

One of many tough issues about titanium dioxide is that it may be consumed in a myriad of the way, making threat calculation tough. “The potential dangers of titanium dioxide differ relying on the strategy of publicity,” says Dr. Eyvazzadeh. Inhaling titanium dioxide when you’re portray a room or engaged on a development web site, for instance, could irritate the eyes, nostril, and throat. However there’s not a lot analysis to inform us what the potential results are of TiO2 in sure different codecs,  like if you happen to eat a bit of little bit of it in meals, or repeatedly insert small quantities of it in your physique by way of a tampon for a number of days every month.

“There is no such thing as a printed analysis obtainable at the moment that has examined the impacts of vaginal or vulvar publicity to titanium dioxide.” —Aimee Eyvazzadeh, MD

There is some proof to recommend that titanium dioxide could have a carcinogenic impact in some codecs. “[TiO2] could trigger most cancers based mostly on research finished on animals, and it has been related to lung most cancers when inhaled,” says Dr. Eyvazzadeh, which is why the authorities units limits on publicity for staff. Different human research, nonetheless, have not discovered any clear hyperlink between lung most cancers and titanium dioxide. And there actually is not a ton of dependable knowledge on the ingredient to assist us draw higher conclusions, argues the authors of this 2011 evaluation.

There’s additionally a bit of little bit of proof to recommend that the widespread ingredient could also be an endocrine disruptor, says Flynn—that means it could have an effect on an individual’s hormonal system. “[P]revious research have proven that titanium dioxide may cause alterations to the reproductive system, together with decreasing the ovarian follicles and resulting in the formation of ovarian cysts,” she says. Nevertheless, these research had been carried out on mice who orally consumed titanium dioxide, so we’ll nonetheless want intensive medical analysis on people earlier than we are able to definitively hyperlink TiO2 with reproductive disruption—or assume these dangers positively come from different intakes of the ingredient.

As for the potential dangers (or lack thereof!) of utilizing pads and tampons with titanium dioxide…we simply do not know for sure. “There is no such thing as a printed analysis obtainable at the moment that has examined the impacts of vaginal or vulvar publicity to titanium dioxide,” Dr. Eyvazzadeh. “However whereas no examine has positively linked titanium dioxide publicity to ovarian most cancers, miscarriages, or UTIs, we additionally don’t have the science to guarantee us that this type of publicity is completely secure both.” This lack of knowledge is extremely irritating, on condition that 26 p.c of the worldwide inhabitants are of reproductive age and presumably utilizing pads and tampons on the common to handle their cycles.

What this implies for the titanium dioxide present in menstrual merchandise—and the way to make a aware buying resolution subsequent time you refill

As a result of there’s so little conclusive analysis on the potential results of titanium dioxide, you are not going to seek out clear, concise steering for tampon procuring by learning up. So what do you do as a substitute?

Some specialists say that there is not any have to lose sleep over having titanium dioxide in tampons. “If this worries you, then do not use merchandise which have this,” Jennifer Lincoln, MD, shared in a video. “But it surely’s the dose, it is the route that makes the ‘poison,’ and so simply because one thing may trigger lung most cancers, for instance, does not imply it’ll trigger a difficulty in a tampon.”

Dr. Eyvazzadeh and Flynn agree that it is okay to strategy the ingredient with warning. “Should you really feel uncomfortable with the potential dangers related to titanium dioxide, search for merchandise that don’t embody titanium dioxide on the substances record,” says Flynn. “Whereas most beauty merchandise will disclose whether or not or not titanium dioxide is an ingredient—some states require it—it is very important word that the FDA doesn’t at the moment require manufacturers to reveal this data.”

Happily, many new wave period-care firms are extraordinarily clear about their substances lists. In consequence, it is not too tough to buy TiO2-free tampons if you happen to’re involved—and have the monetary means to take action. It is also price being skeptical of any definitive claims that titanium dioxide in tampons is tremendous dangerous. As Dr. Eyvazzadeh factors out, we simply do not know both means—irrespective of how sure Becky on TikTok appears.

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