Jury Ties Talc Powder to Ovarian Cancer

Medical studies have demonstrated a strong link between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer in women.

Talc is the active ingredient in baby powder and is used to absorb moisture and prevent chafing and rashes. The substance is unregulated for cosmetic use in the U.S., yet numerous studies dating back to the 1970s have revealed a link between the perineal use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer. Women who use talcum powder weekly on their perineum (genital region) have a risk that is 30 percent higher than the general public for developing ovarian cancer. (National Institutes of Health, Anticancer research, March-April 2013, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21712717). Ovarian cancer is a serious disease, which claimed a projected 14,000 lives in the United States during 2013.

Examining data from thousands of women, the researchers found that application of powder to the genital region was associated with a modest increased risk of epithelial ovarian cancer. There was no increase in risk among women who used the powder only on other parts of the body.

Despite decades of research linking talcum powder and ovarian cancer, as evidenced by the NIH March-April 2003 publication, the first baby powder lawsuit was heard just months ago. Deane Berg, a South Dakota woman who developed ovarian cancer after using Johnson & Johnson baby power products for thirty years, sued the company in federal court. The jury found that Ms. Berg’s cancer was in fact linked to her use of talcum powder. Ms. Berg’s success opens the door for plaintiffs throughout the country to take legal action against Johnson & Johnson and the talc mining companies Luzenac America and Rio Tinto Materials.

Harvard University’s Daniel Cramer, one of the doctors that examined Berg, has been looking into links between talc and ovarian cancer for 30 years. He testified that talcum powder probably causes 10,000 cases of ovarian cancer every year.

One report published in 1982 by the New York Times found that Johnson & Johnson was aware that studies indicated women were three times as likely to develop ovarian cancer if they used talcum powder on their genitals.

Johnson & Johnson, a household name for a wide range of cosmetic, pharmaceutical and hygiene products, has issued a steady stream of product recalls and safety warnings.  Talcum powder cancer lawsuits are one among many product liability litigation suits the conglomerate is facing; others include modifications of the warning labels for Tylenol due to possible liver failure, injuries associated with Transvaginal Mesh, gynecomastia from Risperdal use in boys, and early hip failure and replacement for DePuy hip replacement parts.

The main purpose of women using the talc powder is to prevent moisture or rashes as opposed to any medicinal value. There are other powders available that do not contain talc, as well as ointments that do the same thing. Why wouldn’t Johnson & Johnson warn the consumers about the potential risk?

If you or a loved one has developed ovarian cancer and used talcum powder products at some time in the past, you may be entitled to compensation for the harm and damages sustained while the manufacturers of talcum powder benefitted from their business.

Feel free to comment on this blog post. For more information you can contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).

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