Titanium dioxide has bubbled as much as the highest of our feed once more, however this time it isn’t in Skittles, it is in tampons. Some folks on TikTok are alleging the ingredient can result in all kinds of well being points, together with heavy bleeding and cysts, whereas others say it is nothing to fret about. One Twitter user even created a thread to round-up movies from individuals who allegedly had reactions to a model of tampons that include titanium dioxide.
With a current tampon scarcity, and now anecdotes round adversarial reactions to an ingredient that is present in most interval merchandise, POPSUGAR spoke with docs to get the reality about titanium dioxide in tampons and whether or not it is a trigger for concern.
What Is Titanium Dioxide?
Titanium dioxide, or TiO2, is a naturally occurring mineral that takes the type of a tasteless, white powder, based on the Nationwide Institutes of Well being. It is primarily used for colour pigmentation, per the European Meals Security Authority (EFSA). Its goal is to make meals extra visually interesting, which is why you usually see it used, in rainbow-hued candies equivalent to Skittles. The chemical may also be present in cosmetics, paints, sunscreen (particularly mineral sunscreen), toothpaste — and tampon strings.
Is Titanium Dioxide Secure?
Whereas “titanium dioxide is pure, which means present in nature,” it does not essentially imply it is wholesome, says ob-gyn and ache drugs doctor Jen Gunter, MD.
In 2021, the EFSA dominated that titanium dioxide is unsafe as a meals additive and is suspected of inflicting most cancers. Nonetheless, as of 2022, the Meals & Drug Administration (FDA) nonetheless considers titanium dioxide secure to be used as a colorant in meals, medication, and cosmetics. An FDA spokesperson informed NPR that “the out there security research don’t show security considerations related to the usage of titanium dioxide as a colour additive.”
NPR reported that the Environmental Protection Fund and different NGOs are asking the FDA to evaluation titanium dioxide once more for security, as there’s concern that consuming the chemical often might result in well being points. Nonetheless, when utilized topically — equivalent to through sunscreen — it doesn’t take up into the pores and skin and is taken into account by the FDA to be “typically acknowledged as secure and efficient.”
Is Titanium Dioxide in My Tampons or Pads? How Can I Discover Out?
The Meals & Drug Administration does consider the protection of tampons; nonetheless, it doesn’t require producers to incorporate elements on packaging for tampons and pads. As such, there is not any actual method to know what’s in your tampons except the corporate you are utilizing lists the elements on the package deal or on their web site. For instance, Tampax Pearl lists titanium dioxide as an ingredient used to make the “thread look whiter.” At all times additionally lists it as a fabric used of their pads and liners for making the fabric opaque.
Ought to I Cease Utilizing Interval Merchandise with Titanium Dioxide?
Typically, Dr. Gunter says that “there isn’t any proof that titanium dioxide on tampon strings could cause any hurt.” Inside her 30 years as a gynecologist, Dr. Gunter says tampons themselves have by no means been linked with most cancers, endometriosis, or different critical well being situations “excluding the uncommon poisonous shock syndrome.”
Although the vagina is a mucus membrane, and as such, is able to absorbing a big selection of compounds, Dr. Gunter insists that you do not have to fret a couple of tampon string leaking titanium dioxide nanoparticles into your vagina and having them be absorbed into your physique.
Girls’s well being advocate Jana Pittman, MD, ambassador for Modibodi, maintains that “extra evidence-based analysis must be initiated into the dangers of titanium dioxide in sanitary merchandise earlier than you may cross judgment, and most nations have stringent well being pointers for merchandise,” she says. (And if you happen to’re involved about your tampons or pads, Dr. Pittman says you at all times can go for interval underwear as a substitute.)
So, why does titanium dioxide have this detrimental fame? Dr. Gunter says it very effectively could also be the results of fear-mongering that may occur whenever you’re Very On-line; nonetheless, the anecdotes of detrimental reactions to tampons may be a results of tampons being repeatedly eliminated when dry, allergic reactions, or different sensitivities. “Tampons can irritate a small variety of folks for quite a lot of causes, most actually because folks have pelvic flooring muscle spasms and so the friction towards the muscle causes ache,” Dr. Gunter says. “Allergic reactions with tampons and pads are uncommon so long as they’re unscented.”
And so far as tampon selections go, are “pure” or natural tampons more healthy? “Neither ‘natural’ [nor] ‘pure’ essentially imply secure,” says Dr. Gunter, so you may’t choose a product primarily based on these claims alone. “Natural refers to how the cotton was grown; it means nothing medical,” she says, and “there may be zero information exhibiting natural tampons have any well being profit.”
No matter what science says in regards to the security of titanium dioxide, it is truthful to surprise: Why do tampon strings and pads want further whitening, anyway? If an ingredient like titanium dioxide does not make private hygiene merchandise operate higher, why trouble including something that might doubtlessly pose a well being danger? The obsession with “purifying” intervals and vaginas is one more instance of sexism’s position in ladies’s well being. Tampons are well being merchandise — not a “luxurious merchandise” — so neglect in regards to the aesthetics and deal with our well being and security first.