Talcum Baby Powder and Ovarian Cancer: What You Need to Know

There is mounting scientific evidence that talc-based products used for feminine hygiene cause ovarian cancer. Meanwhile, new information coming to light shows that Johnson & Johnson, the biggest producer of talcum baby powder, knew for decades about the dangers posed by its products but concealed the information from federal regulators and the public.

Some courts are now starting to catch up to the science. In July, a landmark $4.7 billion verdict was awarded in a Missouri state court to 22 plaintiffs who alleged that they developed ovarian cancer from using Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products.

Talc, a mineral containing magnesium, silicon and oxygen, is used in powders to absorb moisture and prevent friction. Thus, it is used in baby powder, hygiene products and cosmetics. Many beauty products, like eye shadow, blush, foundation and face powder, contain talc, baby powder is the product that is most under scrutiny for its link to ovarian cancer.

Cancer Link Ignored

Studies going back as far as the early ‘70s raised concerns about talc. A 1971 study examined tissue from patients with ovarian and cervical cancer and found talc particles embedded in the tissue. In a study published in 1982, Harvard University gynecologist and epidemiologist Dr. Daniel Cramer found that women who used talc-based products in their genital areas were more likely to develop ovarian cancer. Cramer has done several studies since that suggest talc exposure increases the risk of ovarian cancer.

One explanation for the link between talc and cancer is that talc itself is carcinogenic. There have even been studies that found talc particles in the cancerous tissue of women who died from ovarian cancer.

A more likely explanation for the link may be asbestos contamination. Talc and asbestos are often found near each other in the earth and studies have shown that cross-contamination can occur during mining. Asbestos is a known carcinogen, with decades of medical research linking the material to diseases like mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.

The $4.7 billion Missouri verdict was premised on the allegation that Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products have been tainted with asbestos for decades despite representations the company made to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

A recent report from Reuters says that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that its talcum baby powder contained cancer-causing asbestos but concealed that information from regulators and the public.

Civil Lawsuits Provide Justice

The Missouri verdict is the latest evidence proving that civil lawsuits are the most effective means to hold companies accountable for the wrongs they have done. In this case, Johnson & Johnson has profited from knowingly selling dangerous products. Federal regulators, who are supposed to protect the public, failed.

While a successful lawsuit won’t cure your illness, it could compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. If a loved one died from ovarian cancer related to talcum use, you could be entitled to compensation for medical and funeral expenses and loss of companionship. A successful suit may also prevent others from being harmed.

Not every lawsuit filed over talc-based products has been successful, but the tide may be changing. The new information provided by the Reuters report and other sources provides concrete evidence of Johnson & Johnson’s attempts to conceal its responsibility. This evidence could be used to convince juries of the company’s liability.

Get Educated and Protect Yourself

The concealed dangers posed by talc-based products means that you must take steps to educate and protect yourself. You should:

  • Research which products you are using that contain talc, including hygiene products, cosmetics and makeup.
  • Learn the early symptoms of ovarian cancer such as abdominal bloating, distention, nausea loss of appetite, fatigue; and pelvic and back pressure.
  • See a doctor immediately if you suspect you have these symptoms.
  • Speak to your representatives in Congress and make sure they take steps to protect the public from such dangers.
  • Support laws allowing lawsuits and punitive damages to hold accountable those who have profited while turning a blind eye to the risks posed to the public.

Finally, if you think you’ve suffered from any health issues related to the use of talc-based products and would like help with a filing a claim, contact our attorneys today.

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