Ads of ecstatic women using talcum powder on their baby’s bottom have been seen for decades which give off the vibe that talcum powders are anything but unsafe for the genital area. However, the truth is far from the claim because recent studies link talcum powders directly with ovarian cancer in women. The suspicion regarding talcum powders go 4 decades back and even though ovarian cancer is dependent upon numerous factors, it is quite likely that when talcum powder is used in the genital area, the talc particles can make their way to the ovaries through the vagina and fallopian tubes and contribute to the risk of developing cancer.
The evidence to support this claim actually came out in 1971, where it was found out that in fact, as much as 75% of the ovarian cancer tumors consisted of talc particles. About 10 years later, a study conducted by Harvard University suggested that women who used talcum powders or baby powders ran a 30% more risk of developing cancer than the ones that didn’t. Additionally, in 1997 it was found out through an internal memo that Johnson & Johnson’s – manufacturer of baby powders – knew about this risk but thought this factor wasn’t big enough for them to discontinue the sale of their talcum products or even warn the users about this danger for them to take well-informed decisions.
Regardless of the facts and data produced, big-shot companies continue to deny any association of talcum powders with cancer by claiming that the evidence is not enough to maintain a connection between the two. After the studies were put forth, Johnson & Johnson’s continued to sell its products without offering any sort of warning on the bottles of its talcum powder for more than half a century.
The lawsuits that have been filed against Johnson & Johnson’s by women and their families that have developed ovarian cancer as a result of using talcum powder in their genital area, go in thousands. So far, around $5 billion have been granted to the plaintiffs but there still remain a slew of cases that haven’t been addressed yet and there are more to come as well.
What is Talcum Powder?
Talcum powder is the pulverized form of talc, magnesium silicate which is found in naturally occurring deposits in various parts of the world. Often, the deposits are found near asbestos and the earlier form of talcum powder in fact had some amount of asbestos in it.
Previously, there was a link that was developed between asbestos and cancer. Once, this connection was brought to the limelight, manufacturers made sure to make their talcum powder asbestos free. Talc itself hasn’t been that safe to use. Ovarian cancer aside, talc contributes to respiratory problems such as asthma and other lung-conditions.
In famous baby products, such as talcum powder for babies by Johnson & Johnson’s the main ingredient used to be talc due to its incredible properties of soaking up moisture, cutting odor and reducing the chances of getting rashes. However, this had to be changed due to the pressure the big-name company received by users after the cancer-promoting properties were put forth by researchers. So, now companies instead of using talc, resort to absorbent powders such as cornstarch or arrowroot powder.
Talcum Powder Court Results
The first case that an ovarian cancer patient won against a talcum powder manufacturer was in 2013. A leading expert in talcum powder research pertaining to ovarian cancer, Dr. Daniel Cramer testified against talc and pointed out that talc has caused several ovarian cancer cases in the past years and it is in fact a contributor to it.
During the trial, Johnson & Johnson’s went on to claim that the company was aware of the risk it was exposing women to however, it felt that it wasn’t that big of a risk or it was negligible so it didn’t warn its consumers about it. At the same time, the company continued to augment its marketing activities in the African-American and Hispanic demographics.
Since then, there have been various cases won by plaintiffs against Johnson & Johnson’s, and the most famous cases are given below:
2016 – $72 million given to the family of a woman who passed away after she developed ovarian cancer by the use of talcum powder.
2016 – $55 million to a woman who had to go through multiple surgeries, including hysterectomy because of the cancer she developed as a result of using talcum powder.
2016 – $70 million granted to a woman who was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer and who had used talcum powder for 40 years.
2017 – $417 million awarded to a woman who developed terminal ovarian cancer after using talcum powder for a number of years.
2017 – $110 million to an ovarian cancer patient who had used talcum powder for 40 years.
2018 – A Missouri jury awarded $4.69 billion to a group of 22 women who were all diagnosed with ovarian cancer and who had used talcum powder products for a number of years.