In a lawsuit filed recently in Texas, a mother alleges that Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder caused her daughter’s fatal ovarian cancer.
The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of Texas, alleges that the woman’s daughter developed ovarian cancer at age 43, after more than 20 years of using Johnson’s Baby Powder for feminine hygiene, Digital Journal reports.
The plaintiff alleges that Johnson & Johnson knew about the ovarian cancer risk but did not warn consumers. Thousands of women have filed lawsuits over talcum powder’s effects, alleging that Johnson & Johnson hid information that would have alerted women to the dangers of long-term talcum powder use.
The first study to report a possible connection between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer was published in 1971, Bloomberg News reports. In 1982, Dr. Daniel W. Cramer, a Harvard professor, and his colleagues found that women who used talcum powder were at nearly twice the risk of developing ovarian cancer. Those who used powder regularly on their genitals or sprinkled it on their underwear, tampons or sanitary pads were at more than three times the relative risk, according to the New York Times. Though not all subsequent studies indicate increased risk, 20 studies have shown degrees of increased risk in women with long-term use of talcum powder for feminine hygiene.
The soft mineral talc is used in body powders because of its ability to absorb moisture and odors. People also use talcum powder to prevent chafing. Talc is used in products including cosmetics, ceramics, paint, paper, plastic, and rubber. Women have long applied talcum powder directly to the genital area or have sprinkled powder on their underwear, tampons or sanitary pads.
According to the American Cancer Society, minute talc particles can migrate through the vagina and fallopian tubes into the ovaries and cause inflammation, which is thought to contribute to tumor formation. Many of the women who have filed talcum powder lawsuits report decades of regular talcum powder use for feminine hygiene.
Johnson & Johnson’s talc supplier put a warning on the talc it sells but Johnson & Johnson has no put a warning on its Baby Powder or Shower to Shower body powder.
Thousands of talcum powder lawsuits are pending. Two lawsuits that have already gone to trial have resulted in awards for the plaintiffs. Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $72 million to the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer. The second verdict awarded $55 million to a cancer survivor who underwent hysterectomy and additional treatments for her ovarian cancer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 20,000 American women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer annually and about 14,000 die from the disease each year. Early symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and can be dismissed as menstrual or abdominal discomfort. By the time the disease is diagnosed, it has often progress to an advanced when it is more difficult to treat. At present, there is no diagnostic test to catch the disease early when it is more treatable.