“It’s Gentle and Mild”
“A Sprinkle a Day Keeps the Odor Away
“It’s Soft Enough For a Baby’s Bottom”
This is what we have heard for decades from companies such as Johnson & Johnson which has been manufacturing and marketing its talcum powder for more than 100 years. These are the jingles that have led us to believe that talcum powder is safe for us to use. However, as numerous studies have shown, it is anything but.
Talc is a mineral that is mined from the earth and it is the main substance that is found in talcum powder. Baby Powder and Shower to Shower are well-known talc-based cosmetic powders marketed by the manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. Numerous other companies such as Gold Bond and Avon also manufacture and sell talc-based body powders.
The trouble with talcum powder is that more than 20 epidemiological studies have concluded that the genital use of talcum powder increases the risk of ovarian cancer. This means that if a woman has ever used a talcum powder in the genital area, there is an increased risk of her developing ovarian cancer.
Furthermore, one study suggests that women who use talcum powder in the genital area on a consistent basis for 5 years or more double their risk of developing ovarian cancer. The risk is triple for those who use talcum powder in this way for more than 20 years. This, and a mountain of other evidence, has led the National Cancer Institute to list talcum powder, when used in the genital area, as a risk factor for ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer is a tragic and deadly disease. Symptoms can include any combination of the following:
- Abdominal bloating or swelling
- Feeling unusually full after eating
- Trouble eating
- Weight loss
- A frequent urge to urinate
- Indigestion and heartburn
- Back pain
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Menstrual irregularities
- Painful intercourse
These are all vague and common symptoms that affect a lot of women and that can easily be confused with a woman’s monthly cycle. Therefore, months and sometimes years can go by before a woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and by then it is often too late.
What Did Johnson & Johnson Know and When Did They know?
Lawsuits that are being filed against Johnson & Johnson claim that the manufacturer knew as long ago as the early 1980’s that there was a direct relationship between its talcum powder and ovarian cancer, but did not tell the FDA or the public about the risk.
There are studies from the 1960’s that show that particles from substances similar to talc can migrate from the exterior of the genitalia all the way to the ovaries. A study that addressed talc particles themselves took place as early as 1971. This study, done by W.J. Henderson, reported that of the ovarian tumors examined, talc particles were found deeply embedded in tumorous tissue.
The first study that brought talc to the forefront as being associated with ovarian cancer was published in 1982 by Dr. Daniel Cramer from Harvard, who at that time suggested to Johnson & Johnson that they either take their talc-based products off of the market or provide a warning label. Johnson and Johnson did neither and to this day does not have a warning label linking the genital use of talcum powder to an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
A drug manufacturers like Johnson & Johnson have a responsibility to keep abreast of the medical literature that is published about its drugs. Johnson & Johnson admittedly embrace this duty and claims to have people who monitor all of the studies regarding their products that are published. So, there is no way that the could not have known about the Henderson and Cramer studies when they were published. They also knew about the other 20 or so epidemiological studies that linked talcum powder use to ovarian cancer.
In one of their own internal documents from 1986, Johnson and Johnson acknowledges the growing concerns over the safety of cosmetic powders such as Baby Powder. This document goes on to note that retrospective studies have implicated talc as a cause of ovarian cancer.
In another internal Johnson & Johnson document from 1994, the author writes to the president and CEO of the company stating that studies have conclusively shown that the use of talcum powder in the genital area poses a serious risk of ovarian cancer.
Recent Lawsuits Decisions
Recently, a Missouri court has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $72 million in damages to the family of a woman whose death from ovarian cancer was linked to her daily use of Johnson & Johnson’s Shower to Shower for more than 35 years. In addition, as many as 1200 similar lawsuits have also been filed against Johnson & Johnson linking its talc based products to incidents of ovarian cancer.
Contact An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after regular use of a talc-based product, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, as well as, wrongful death claims for family members.