Several studies have shown that the use of talcum powder products for feminine hygiene may increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer. Talcum powder has also been linked to an increased risk of uterine cancer. Hundreds of women who were diagnosed with cancer after using talcum powder have filed lawsuits against the manufacturers of these products.
The main ingredient in talcum powder products is talc, a naturally occurring mineral composed of magnesium, silicon, oxygen, and hydrogen. In powder form, talc has been widely used for more than a century in thousands of cosmetic, hygienic, and consumer products. Because talcum powder is good at absorbing moisture and reducing friction, the use of talcum powder can help to keep skin dry, prevent odor, and prevent rashes.
Although many baby powder products are manufactured with talc, others are manufactured using cornstarch, which has not been shown to carry the same cancer risks as talcum powder. Some products, such as Johnson’s Baby Powder, are sold in both talcum and cornstarch varieties. Consumers who are concerned about talc in the body powder products they use should check the products’ labels to determine whether they contain talc.
Multiple studies have linked the use of talcum powder products to an increased risk of ovarian cancer. The first study linking talcum powder to an increased ovarian cancer risk, which was published in 1971, found talc particles embedded in the tumors of women who had been diagnosed with the disease. In 1982, a study conducted by researchers at Harvard University found that women who used talc were twice as likely to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer, while women who used talcum powder for feminine hygiene in the vaginal area were three times as likely to be diagnosed with the disease. A 2013 study which pooled the results of several studies examining the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer found that talc users were 24% more likely to be diagnosed.
A 2010 study also found an association between talcum powder products and an increased risk of uterine cancer. The study found that post-menopausal women who used talcum powder were 21% more likely to be diagnosed with cancer of the uterus; for women who used talc regularly (one a week or more), this risk increased by 24%. The researchers in the study called on scientists to conduct further studies to examine the link between talcum powder and uterine cancer.
When talcum powder is used in the vaginal area for feminine hygiene, talc particles can travel through the fallopian tubes to the ovaries or uterus. When talc particles become lodged inside the body, they can cause irritation to the surrounding tissues. This irritation can increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer or other diseases.
As of August 2016, Johnson & Johnson was facing about 1,800 lawsuits filed on behalf of women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using Johnson’s Baby Powder, Shower to Shower, or other talcum powder products sold by the company. These lawsuits included about 1,200 lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson in Missouri state court, as well as an additional 600 cases filed in New Jersey state court. Several lawsuits by women who were diagnosed with uterine cancer have also been filed against the company.
In February 2016, a jury in Missouri awarded $72 million in damages to the family of an Alabama woman who died from ovarian cancer that was linked to her use of talcum powder products sold by Johnson & Johnson. The case was the first ever damages award in a lawsuit involving talcum powder and ovarian cancer. In May 2016, another Missouri jury awarded a $55 million verdict to a woman who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and underwent a total hysterectomy after using talc products sold by Johnson & Johnson. Hundreds of other lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson and other talcum powder manufacturers are still pending.
Women who have used talcum powder products and were diagnosed with ovarian cancer or uterine cancer may qualify to file a lawsuit. Individuals who have lost a loved one to cancer potentially caused by talcum powder may also be eligible to file a case. To learn more about whether you may be able to take part in the litigation against companies that manufacture talc products, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson for a free consultation about your case. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out our brief case evaluation form located at the top of this page.