Mum spends £8k on addiction that sees her eat tub of Johnson’s baby powder a day
A mum has spent £8,000 on a bizarre addiction which sees her consume a tub of talcum powder every day.
Lisa Anderson, 44, started eating the product 15 years ago when she felt the urge while drying off her son after a bath.
She has since spent at estimated £8,000 on Johnson's Baby Powder, sneaking to the bathroom to scoff it off the back of her hand every 30 minutes.
The mum-of-five can get through a whole 200g bottle in a day and even gets up four times a night to feed her craving – which costs her £10 a week.
She kept her habit secret for a decade before confiding in her ex-partner, and has now plucked up the courage to get professional help.
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.
Lisa, of Paignton, Devon, said: "I do get it's a bit weird – but it just has this nice soapy taste.
"I can get through a 200g bottle in a day but the bigger ones I get through about one-and-a-half a week.
"I remember getting really drawn to its smell. Now I can't do without it. I go up and get some every half an hour."
Lisa first developed symptoms of PICA syndrome in 2004 just a few days after giving birth to her fifth child.
She said: "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. 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. It just hit this spot.
"It was satisfying a craving I never knew I had.
"I've never had it with any of the other children. Just my last one.
"Just like someone with an addiction I was just having more and more each time I went to have some.
"I can't really go half an hour without it.
"The longest I've been without it is two days. That was the worst time of my life. I hated it."
Lisa always has a drink of water after indulging to cleanse her taste buds and cannot stomach flavoured talc, just the Johnson's original.
When she is out of the house, she munches on extra strong mints which satisfy her craving for the chalky texture.
"I don't carry any around with me when I go out," she said. "If I do have to go out to the shops or go to hospital I eat mints outside.
"The other day I was out for a few hours and I had eaten six packets of extra strong mints.
"But when I got home I just went to have the powder. It's the chalky texture that I crave.
"I wake up at least four times in the night as my body just craves it.
"This has been going on for years now I just can't see a point when it isn't part of my life."
It was not until she visited her GP last year that doctors identified the possible causes – iron deficiency, OCD and PICA syndrome.
She has been referred by her GP for counselling, due to start this month.
Her habit is not without health risks – 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.
Lisa said: "Despite doing this for years and years I sat down earlier this year and thought this just cannot be normal.
"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 just want to raise awareness to others.
"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."
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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