Talcum Powder Linked to Ovarian Cancer
For decades, there has been concern regarding the use of talcum powder on the genital region in particular. Since 1992 there have been several medical studies, which all revealed an increased risk of ovarian cancer in women who used it. In a 2015 epidemiology study, researchers found that the perineal use of talcum powder, including Johnson’s Baby Powder, increased the risk of ovarian cancer by a third.
Talcum Powder Lawsuits
As part of the talcum powder lawsuits, Plaintiff attorneys claim the manufacturers of talcum powder have known for more than forty (40) years that there is a link between using the product and ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.
However, these companies intentionally made the decision not to warn women that the powder could cause cancer by entering the lungs or the vagina after being applied for personal hygiene, and especially after use on the genital area or on sanitary napkins or condoms. Women who use talcum power on a frequent basis for personal hygiene have a 30% higher chance of getting cancer.
Johnson & Johnson is not the only brand or product under fire, however. Lawsuits have been filed involving:
- Johnson & Johnson
- Gold Bond Medicated Powder
- Nivea Pure Talc
- McKesson Baby Powder
Talcum Powder Risks and Side Effects
The most serious potential side effect for women using talcum powder is ovarian cancer (caused by the powder entering the ovaries through the vagina) and mesothelioma (caused by the talcum powder entering the lungs).
However, medical studies also link long-term talc use to increased risk for developing cervical cancer. Since it’s easy to inhale airborne talc particles, talcum powder also poses a risk to babies
While ovarian cancer is the most common (and fatal) complication of prolonged talcum powder use, other side effects do exist. Talc particles are easily airborne, and inhaling talcum powder can cause coughing, wheezing, shallow breathing as well as a chronic lung condition called pulmonary talcosis. As a result, extended talc inhalation can cause pneumonia and trigger asthma symptoms. And talc in its natural form may also contain asbestos, a well-known carcinogen. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned marketing any talc-based products that contain asbestos to consumers. However, Johnson’s® baby powder (categorized under cosmetics) isn’t approved or reviewed by the FDA. For this and other reasons, there’s still a chance that talcum-based products may contain asbestos. Asbestos exposure produces many unpleasant side effects, including mesothelioma and lung cancer.
British researchers at a lab in Wales conducted the first study showing a clear link between ovarian cancer and talcum powder use in 1971. Researchers dissected 13 ovarian tumors, finding particles of talc “deeply embedded” within 10 of them. Since then, additional studies found that talc crystals traveled through a woman’s genitourinary tract into her peritoneal cavity. Once there, particles embed themselves into the woman’s ovaries. Because talc particles can take years to dissolve, inflammation around the area is common. And since all silicates like talc have inflammatory properties, many doctors believe it may explain the link between talcum powder and cancer.
Over 20 additional studies associate peritoneal talcum powder contamination with ovarian cancer. An American woman’s risk for developing ovarian cancer is currently 1 in 75, according to the OCRFA. Yet exposure to talcum powder increases those odds to 1 in 53, based on subsequent research. According to the CDC, about 20,000 U.S. women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer annually, and around 14,000 will die from it. As a result, ovarian cancer is the fifth-leading cause of cancer death in U.S. women. While radiation or chemotherapy treatments have temporary side effects, death is the worst possible outcome.
Talcum Powder Side Effects & Complications for Babies
Because it’s easy to inhale tiny airborne talc particles, most pediatricians warn new parents not to use it on their babies. Instead, use cornstarch-based baby powders to treat rashes and keep diaper-clad bottoms dry.
Dr. Jo Ann Rohyans says that “baby powder may smell and feel good, but I don’t recommend it — and the American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends against it. Powder can cause breathing problems and serious lung damage when inhaled, and it’s not always easy to keep the powder out of the air where your baby might breathe it.” Additionally, there’s no evidence that talc-based baby powder prevents rashes, despite marketing it to parents for that purpose.
And since inhaled talc dries out an infant’s mucous membranes, it may also cause serious lung damage. Dr. Andrew Weil says, “Some babies developed pneumonia and some have died as a result of respiratory failure from inhaling the powder. Cornstarch isn’t ideal either, but its particles are larger and are not as easily inhaled as talc.”
All Johnson’s baby powder and Shower-to-Shower® body powder products now warn that inhalation can lead to other talcum powder side effects. Because pouring talcum powder makes it easy to breathe in and airborne particles travel quickly, talc can get into the lungs and other openings in the body. As a result, some women face distressing side effects — including life-threatening cancer.
Talcum Powder Warnings and Recalls
Talcum powder ovarian cancer warnings have come from many different sources, including cancer prevention organizations, doctors and researchers, and consumer safety groups. In 1999, the American Cancer Society urged women to stop using talcum powder for perineal dusting because of the risk of talcum powder cancer.
Yet despite all the talcum powder ovarian cancer warnings and the existing body of research, Johnson & Johnson maintains that talcum powder is safe for regular use by women. The talcum powder market is estimated at $18.8 million and Johnson & Johnson is the leading producer of talcum powder; an estimated 19% of American families use J&J talc products, according to a 2016 Bloomberg article.
Many cancer experts and talcum powder cancer advocates are outraged that federal regulators have never issued a FDA talcum powder cancer warning. On multiple occasions, federal regulators have denied petitions from a large coalition of concerned entities seeking an FDA talcum powder ovarian cancer warning. Ovarian cancer experts widely agree that talc is carcinogenic, and say that starch-based powders provide an obvious, safe alternative.
A coalition led by the Cancer Prevention Coalition has petitioned the FDA numerous times to issue a warning on the threat of ovarian cancer from talcum powder dusting. Each of these requests has been ignored or denied.
The consequences of failing to issue a talcum powder ovarian cancer warning are significant, warn ovarian cancer experts. One such epidemiologist, Dr. Daniel Cramer of Harvard University, suggests that as many as 10,000 women each year develop talcum powder ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is a serious disease that causes undue suffering and took approximately 14,000 lives in the United States during 2013.
Talcum Powder Lawsuit Settlements
In 2018, two mesothelioma plaintiffs won multimillion-dollar verdicts against J&J. The first was Stephen Lanzo III, who (along with his wife) won $117 million in April. A month later, a jury ordered J&J to pay Joanne Anderson $26 million for her terminal mesothelioma case.
The Russo Firm and Talcum Powder Lawsuits
Our firm is investigating cases for individuals who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer or mesothelioma and who experienced significant exposure to talcum powder, including Johnson’s Baby Powder.
Contact Our Experienced Talcum Powder Lawyers For A Free Case Evaluation
If you or a loved one have suffered an injury from the use of Talcum Powder products, call The Russo Firm at 844-847-8300 or contact us online to talk with an experienced lawyer about your injuries. If you can’t travel to our office, we will come to you, or we can work by phone, fax, email or other methods of communication. Remember, you pay no fee unless we obtain compensation for you.