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Talcum Powder Use Linked to Ovarian Cancer in Women

talcum powder

A 2013 Cancer Prevention Research study, entitled, “Genital Powder Use and Risk of Ovarian Cancer: A Pooled Analysis of 8,525 Cases and 9,859 Controls,” indicated that women who use talcum powder in the genital area may have a 20 to 30 percent higher risk of ovarian cancer than those who do not. It is one of many studies published since the 1970s evidencing the connection between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer.

 In the 2013 Cancer Prevention Research article, the authors state that, “genital powder use, but not use on other parts of the body, has been linked to increased risk of ovarian cancer, suggesting that powder particles ascending the genital tract may predispose to ovarian cancer development.” In 1982, Johnson & Johnson was confronted with a study published in the journal Cancer that found that women who dusted their genitals and sanitary napkins with talcum powder were three times as likely to develop cancer as women who did not. In response, Johnson & Johnson called the study “inconclusive” and said more research was needed. In fact, multiple studies have reported the link between use of talcum powder in the genital area and ovarian cancer since the 1970s, and the research has continued to develop since 1982.

These studies have lead to an emerging litigation on behalf of consumers who were unaware that their use of talcum powders may increase their risk of developing ovarian cancer. In 2013, the first talcum powder case was tried before a jury in South Dakota. In that case, the plaintiff alleged that Johnson & Johnson knew the use of two of its talcum powder products—Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower—could lead to ovarian cancer. The jury found for the plaintiff on her negligence claim.

In 2014, class action suits for plaintiffs who are not claiming any personal injury have been filed in federal courts in California and Illinois. These class action suits allege that Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products significantly increase the risk of ovarian cancer, and Johnson & Johnson failed to disclose this risk on its labels. The Illinois class action suit seeks injunctive relief and to stop Johnson & Johnson from engaging in “deceptive and fraudulent commercial practices.”

Talcum powder is made from talc, which is a mineral made up mainly of magnesium, silicon and oxygen. In its natural form, some talc may contain asbestos, although home-use talcum products have been asbestos-free since the 1970s. Based on the human studies, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies the genital use of the talc-based body powder as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” Despite the studies linking talcum powder to ovarian cancer, talcum powder is not regulated by the FDA because it is considered an ingredient in cosmetic products. Under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, cosmetic products and ingredients, with the exception of color additives, do not have to undergo FDA review and approval before they go on the market. However, the FDA does monitor potential safety problems with cosmetic products on the market and takes action when needed to product public health. Despite being aware of the evidence linking talc and ovarian cancer, the FDA has not yet issued a warning. Other organizations, like the Cancer Prevention Coalition, have issued warnings about the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer and consistently lobbied the FDA to take action.

If you or someone you love was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after prolonged us of talcum powder, you may be entitled to compensation. Please contact us online or call us at 800-829-7037 today. Our experienced dangerous pharmaceutical and medical device team of attorneys is here to offer you a completely free and confidential evaluation of your claim.