Titanium dioxide has bubbled as much as the highest of our feed once more, however this time it’s not in Skittles, it is in tampons. Some people 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 shortage, and now anecdotes round hostile 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, in keeping with the National Institutes of Health. It is primarily used for coloration pigmentation, per the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Its function is to make meals extra visually interesting, which is why you typically see it used, in rainbow-hued candies comparable to Skittles. The chemical will also be present in cosmetics, paints, sunscreen (especially mineral sunscreen), toothpaste — and tampon strings.
Is Titanium Dioxide Protected?
Whereas “titanium dioxide is pure, which means present in nature,” it would not essentially imply it is wholesome, says ob-gyn and ache medication doctor Jen Gunter, MD.
In 2021, the EFSA ruled that titanium dioxide is unsafe as a meals additive and is suspected of causing cancer. Nevertheless, as of 2022, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) nonetheless considers titanium dioxide protected to be used as a colorant in meals, medication, and cosmetics. An FDA spokesperson told NPR that “the out there security research don’t exhibit security considerations linked to using titanium dioxide as a coloration additive.”
NPR reported that the Environmental Protection Fund and different NGOs are asking the FDA to evaluate titanium dioxide once more for security, as there’s concern that consuming the chemical commonly might result in well being points. Nevertheless, when utilized topically — comparable to by way of sunscreen — it doesn’t take up into the pores and skin and is considered by the FDA to be “typically acknowledged as protected and efficient.”
Is Titanium Dioxide in My Tampons or Pads? How Can I Discover Out?
The Food & Drug Administration does consider the security of tampons; nonetheless, it doesn’t require producers to incorporate components on packaging for tampons and pads. As such, there is not any actual option to know what’s in your tampons until the corporate you are utilizing lists the components on the bundle or on their web site. For instance, Tampax Pearl lists titanium dioxide as an ingredient used to make the “thread look whiter.” Always 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?
Usually, Dr. Gunter says that “there isn’t a proof that titanium dioxide on tampon strings may 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 circumstances “except for the uncommon poisonous shock syndrome.”
Although the vagina is a mucus membrane, and as such, is capable of absorbing a wide array 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.
Ladies’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 possibly can move judgment, and most international locations have stringent well being pointers for merchandise,” she says. (And should you’re involved about your tampons or pads, Dr. Pittman says you at all times can go for period underwear as a substitute.)
So, why does titanium dioxide have this unfavorable fame? Dr. Gunter says it very nicely could also be the results of fear-mongering that may occur once you’re Very On-line; nonetheless, the anecdotes of unfavorable reactions to tampons is also a results of tampons being repeatedly removed when dry, allergy symptoms, or different sensitivities. “Tampons can irritate a small variety of individuals for quite a lot of causes, most actually because individuals 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 decisions go, are “pure” or organic tampons more healthy? “Neither ‘natural’ [nor] ‘pure’ essentially imply protected,” says Dr. Gunter, so you possibly can’t choose a product based mostly on these claims alone. “Natural refers to how the cotton was grown; it means nothing medical,” she says, and “there may be zero knowledge 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 would not make private hygiene merchandise operate higher, why trouble including something that might doubtlessly pose a well being threat? The obsession with “purifying” durations and vaginas is yet one more instance of sexism’s function in ladies’s well being. Tampons are well being merchandise — not a “luxury item” — so neglect in regards to the aesthetics and deal with our well being and security first.