A mum has a rare condition which has seen her spend over $15,000 – on eating an entire tub of Johnson's Baby Talcum Powder every single day.
Lisa Anderson, 44, started eating the powder 15 years ago when she felt the urge after using it on her young son following a bath.
She estimates she's spent thousands her bizarre craving and runs off to the bathroom at least 40 times a day to eat the white powder off the back of her hand.
“I do get it's a bit weird. It just has this nice soapy taste,” Lisa said, admitting she eats the bathroom staple up to every 30 minutes and routinely wakes up four times a night to feed her habit.
“I remember getting really drawn to its smell. Now I can't do without it.”
Lisa, who suffers from anxiety and depression, said she only eats one meal a day and skips breakfast and lunch to gauge on the powder throughout the day.
She developed symptoms of PICA syndrome in 2004 just a few days after giving birth to her fifth child.
“I've always had it in the house and would douse myself with it after having a bath or shower. I'd use it on the kids after giving them a wash no problem,” she explains.
“And then one day I remember being in the bathroom and the smell was just overpowering. There was a bit of dust that had come off the top of the bottle.
“I had this sudden urge to eat it and I just couldn't fight it. I just licked it off my hand and really enjoyed it.”
Lisa from Devon, UK, kept her habit secret for a decade before confiding in her ex-partner - and has now plucked up the courage to get professional help.
“Just like someone with an addiction I was just having more and more each time I went to have some,” she said.
“The longest I've been without it is two days. That was the worst time of my life. I hated it.
“I've never snorted it or anything like that. And I don't carry any around with me when I go out. If I do have to go out to the shops or go to hospital I eat mints outside.”
The mum-of five was recently told by doctors she may have symptoms of PICA syndrome - an eating disorder characterised by a compulsion to eat non-food items.
Doctors also said her cravings could be a result of a possible iron deficiency or OCD.
“Despite doing this for years and years I sat down earlier this year and thought this just cannot be normal,” she admitted.
“My partner doesn't like me doing it because of the links it has to cancer and the impact it could be having on my health. I went online and did my own bit of research then I decided to go to my GP.
“I spent years not knowing what was going on or happening. But it turns out it is a condition. And I just want to let others know they are not alone.”
She's set to get professional help in later this month, and is speaking out to urge others to speak out too.
Talcum powder is a powder made from a mineral called talc, a clay mineral made up of silicon, magnesium and oxygen.
It is thought the mineral is poisonous to the body if either inhaled or consumed.
Breathing problems are the most common side effect as well as a cough and eye irritation. But it can also cause chest pain and even lung failure as well as low blood pressure, convulsions, diarrhoea and vomiting.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organisation (WHO), has previously ruled talc as possibly cancerous to humans based on a range of studies.
In 2016, a US study found a 33 per cent increase in the risk of ovarian cancer with genital talc use. The NHS dubbed the study too small to be conclusive but does note gynaecologists recommend using plain, unperfumed soaps to gently wash the vagina.
In July 2018 Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay £3.6billion to 22 women after asbestos in baby powder gave them cancer. Johnson & Johnson has always refuted the claim that its talcum powder is unsafe.
People who have inhaled or ingested talcum powder are advised to seek help immediately.
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