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Exploring the Link Between Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer


For decades, items like Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder have been marketed as safe personal hygiene products. A key ingredient, however, has recently been called into question for its connection to ovarian cancer. Claims made in the talcum powder lawsuit allege that the manufacturers were aware of the danger since the early 1970s, but did not warn consumers of the possible risk.

Illustration of a woman's reproductive system
Talcum powder has been connected to an increased incidence of ovarian cancer.

Women have been using talc-based products in the genital area as a method of reducing friction and increasing comfort for many years. Had they been properly informed, many of them would have chosen a different product that did not pose a threat to their health. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using products containing talcum powder, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Please contact an experienced defective products attorney today for a complimentary case evaluation.

Ovarian Cancer

Cancer, no matter where it occurs in the body, is the uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells. Under normal conditions, the cells in our bodies divide and create new tissue to replace older, deteriorating cells. Cancer cells, however, behave differently. They continue to divide and replicate, outliving normal tissue and forming tumors.

The type of cancer is named for the location of the primary tumor but cancerous cells can also metastasize, or migrate to other areas of the body, and form new tumors. This occurs when cancer cells move into the bloodstream or lymph system and begin to divide and replicate in a new location.

The ovaries are two small reproductive organs on either side of the uterus that produce eggs, as well as the hormones estrogen and progesterone. When cancer cells are found in these organs, it is termed ovarian cancer. Unfortunately, this condition is notoriously difficult to detect in its earliest stages and often goes undiagnosed until it has spread to other areas in the abdomen.

The Role of Talcum Powder

The first study that found a connection between ovarian cancer and products containing talcum powder was published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the British Commonwealth in March 1971. Researchers at the Welsh National School of Medicine examined tissue samples from patients who had previously been diagnosed with ovarian or cervical cancer. They found that over 75 percent of the tissue samples contained talc particles.

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In May 2015, the International Journal of Gynecological Cancer published a study performed by researchers at the University of Texas of Public Health in Houston. The researchers involved in the study concluded that using talc-based products on the genital area was correlated with a 30 to 60 percent increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.

There have been many other studies performed since 1971 that have found evidence indicating a connection between talcum powder use and the occurrence of ovarian cancer. As lawsuits continue to mount against Johnson & Johnson, researchers continue to study this possible connection in the hope of discovering more concrete evidence.

Talcum Powder Litigation

Thousands of women and their families have already come forward to file claims in the talcum powder lawsuit. While the majority of these claims are still in their earliest stages, it is likely that these cases will be consolidated in multidistrict litigation (MDL). MDL combines similar claims against a common defendant to expedite pretrial processes and avoid conflicting rulings on evidence. In MDL cases, plaintiffs are represented by the attorney of their choosing, and are free to make decisions about accepting settlements or pursuing trial without being bound to decisions of other plaintiffs. In contrast, claimants involved in class action lawsuits must accept the terms agreed to by the representative lead plaintiffs.

In February 2016, a jury in St. Louis, MO, awarded the family of Jacqueline Fox $72 million from Johnson & Johnson. Mrs. Fox had used the company’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower® products for over 35 years before being diagnosed with, and ultimately passing away from, ovarian cancer.

In May 2016, another jury in St. Louis, MO, awarded Gloria Ristesund $55 million from Johnson & Johnson. Like Mrs. Fox, Mrs. Ristesund had used the company’s talcum powder products for feminine hygiene purposes over many years before being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Thankfully, Mrs. Ristesund is now in remission.

Contact an Experienced Attorney

There are thousands of pending lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson concerning their talc-based products. If you or your family has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using these products, contact a pharmaceutical attorney in your area to explore your legal options.

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