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The Talcum Powder Lawsuit: Can Baby Powder Cause Ovarian Cancer?


For years, large companies like Johnson & Johnson have manufactured products that contain talcum powder. These products, such as Baby Powder and Shower to Shower®, have been marketed and sold as being safe and effective for adults to use. Medical professionals have known for years that products containing talcum powder could pose a threat to babies and children if they breathed in the small dust-like particles. However, a number of consumers have come forward to file claims in the talcum powder lawsuit after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer that is believed to be caused by these products. Many women have used Baby Powder or Shower to Shower® for decades to keep the genital area cool and comfortable. Additionally, birth control products, such as condoms or diaphragms, have been coated with these talc-based powders. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after prolonged exposure to Johnson’s Baby Powder or Shower to Shower®, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Please contact an experienced defective products attorney today to explore your legal rights.

For over 45 years, medical professionals have suspected a link between the use of talcum powder and developing cancer in the reproductive organs.

The First Discovered Link Between Talcum Powder and Cancer

For over 45 years, medical professionals have suspected a link between the use of talcum powder and developing cancer in the reproductive organs. The first study that found a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer was published in March 1971, in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the British Commonwealth. This study, which was conducted at the Welsh National School of Medicine in Cardiff, Wales, examined 13 tissue samples from patients who had been diagnosed with cancer of the ovaries or cervix, using techniques that were similar to methods used to study the link between asbestos and cancer. The article, titled “Talc and Carcinoma of the Ovary and Cervix”, describes their methods and their findings that over 75 percent of the tissue samples contained talc particles. Since that time, numerous additional journal articles have been published that expand upon the study’s original conclusions. While there is some conflicting research, most peer-reviewed medical studies indicate that there is an increased incidence of ovarian cancer for women who used talcum powder products.

Talcum Powder Lawsuits

Lawsuits that have already been filed allege that Johnson & Johnson were aware of the increased risks associated with talcum powder use, but chose to conceal those dangers from the public. Additional charges that have been made against the manufacturer include:

  • Violating consumers’ legal remedies
  • Violating the Unfair Competition Law
  • Violating business and professions code
  • Negligence
  • Breach of implied warranty
  • Failure to warn

Class Action Lawsuits

Separate class action lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson in California and Illinois. It is important to note that the lead plaintiffs in each case have not been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, but have used talcum-based products for many years. These lawsuits have been filed on behalf of the lead plaintiffs and “other similarly situated consumers.”

Resolved Talcum Powder Claims

As of the publication of this article, there have been no large group settlements involving products containing talcum powder. However, in February 2016, a jury determined that the family of Jackie Fox was entitled to $72 million from Johnson & Johnson after she passed away from ovarian cancer caused by regular use of talcum powder.

Multidistrict Litigation

Multidistrict litigation is similar to class actions, in that both types of lawsuits involve many individual plaintiffs who sustained injuries caused by the same product. In class action lawsuits, a small group of plaintiffs (class representatives) represents the larger group, and all rulings and verdicts are legally binding for everyone involved.

Plaintiffs participating in multidistrict litigation (MDL) will retain their own legal counsel, but cases will be consolidated before one judge to expedite the discovery process and eliminate any conflicting rulings on evidence that is common to each claim.

If you have been injured by a defective drug, Speak with an Attorney

The majority of talcum powder lawsuits will be handled as MDL. Experienced defective product attorneys will represent each plaintiff individually, based upon their specific injuries and circumstances surrounding their claim. Typically, a few cases will be tried before a jury and the manufacturer will gain a clearer understanding of their financial risk. They will then be able to determine appropriate settlement amounts to offer to individual plaintiffs.

An experienced attorney can help guide you through the entire legal process and advise you on key matters in your case. Each state has definitive time constraints in which you must file a claim. Failure to do so within the specified timeframe can release the manufacturers of these products from liability.

Scientific Studies Concerning Talcum powder and Ovarian Cancer

There have been a number of scientific journal articles published that examine the possible link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer since the 1971 study conducted in Wales. Although there have been conflicting findings by individual research teams, the commonly accepted indications are that there is a strong association between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer.

Perineal Talc Use and Ovarian Cancer: A Critical Review

In an article published in the April 2008 issue of the European Journal for Cancer Prevention, researchers from Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine and the University of South Carolina School of Medicine found a correlation between talcum powders and an increased risk of ovarian cancer. When the results of their study were looked at in conjunction with other related data, researchers have concluded that the evidence supports a causal connection.

Talc Use and Ovarian Cancer: Epidemiology Between a Rock and a Hard Place

An article published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 2014 states that the biological basis for talc carcinogenicity (cancer-causing capability) is not fully understood. Evidence suggests, however, that direct physical contact between talcum particles and ovarian tissue may cause chronic inflammation. This condition has been the subject of many studies over the years, and the generally accepted consensus is that chronic inflammation may be a causative factor in the development of many different types of tumors.

Does Talc Exposure Cause Ovarian Cancer?

In May 2015, the International Journal of Gynecological Cancer published the findings of a study conducted at the University of Texas School of Public Health. As the title of the study may suggest, the researchers were concerned with finding causal evidence between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. Their results conclude that talc use increased the risk of developing ovarian cancer by 30 to 60 percent, and that it has an attributable risk of 29 percent. This number refers to their findings that discontinuing talcum powder use could protect 29 percent of women.

Safety Warning Labels

The packaging for these products does not contain any information related to the risk of ovarian cancer. Johnson’s Baby Powder has a label that warns against infants inhaling the dust-like particles, and that the bottle should be kept out of reach from children.

Congress is currently considering an update to the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to expand the FDA’s authority in regulating this type of product.

Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower® products are considered to be cosmetics, which do not need approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before being brought to market. Congress is currently considering an update to the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to expand the FDA’s authority in regulating this type of product.

Seek Legal Representation

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer that was caused by products containing talcum powder, please contact an experienced defective products attorney today.

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