Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer Lawsuits

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Public Health Watchdog Breaking News
Public Health Watchdog Breaking News

Feminine Talcum Powder Use may be Tied to Ovarian Cancer

Thousands of women nationwide may have developed ovarian cancer allegedly due to their hygienic use of talcum powder. While traditionally known as “Baby Powder,” talcum powder is typically used to prevent or treat rashes; however, women also use talcum powder for personal genital hygiene. Lawsuits are mounting over allegedly inadequate warnings provided by manufacturers, specifically Johnson & Johnson, which sells talcum-based products under the names Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower powder.

Researchers believe powder particles applied to or near the genitalia, including on sanitary napkins, diaphragms, and condoms may travel through the vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes, and to the ovaries, which may lead to cancer-triggering inflammation.

Parker Waichman LLP has many years of experience fighting large drug, medical device, and consumer product companies that have released dangerous drugs, devices, and consumer products, placing corporate over consumer safety. The firm is reviewing potential talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits and notes that, to date, three cases have led to large plaintiff awards over Johnson & Johnson’s alleged failure to warn about the risk of ovarian cancer associated with its powder products. One such case led to a $72 million verdict for the family of a woman who died due to ovarian cancer. Another case led to a jury award of $55 million to a woman who developed ovarian cancer following many years of genital talcum powder use. The third jury award for the plaintiff was for $67.5 million.

According to Fortune, the three awards total nearly $195 million and were all handed down in state court in St. Louis, Missouri under the same judge. To date, some 2,500 similar claims have been filed, most in the same court. Since the first lawsuit was filed in 2009, Johnson & Johnson has not issued a warning about its baby powder and shower-to-shower talcum powder products and continues to maintain its products are not linked to cancer.

Why Talcum Powder May Present Ovarian Cancer Issues

Talc, the softest known mineral, is mined from deposits across the United States and around the world. Talc, which is crushed into a white powder, is very absorbent and has been used since 1894 in various cosmetic and personal hygiene products. J&J introduced its baby powder in 1894, according to The Associated Press (AP).

Since the 1970s, talcum products used in the United States for home use have allegedly been free of asbestos; however, talcum powder is derived from a hydrated magnesium silicate, a combination comprised of silicon with magnesium and oxygen. At issue is that talc residues are often found near asbestos deposits; asbestos is a known carcinogen. Significant caution must be used when mining talc to avoid contaminating the mineral with asbestos.

Ovarian cancer is extremely aggressive and has a low survival rate. In fact, about 60 percent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer receive their diagnoses at stage three when the five-year survival rate is as low as a 34 percent. This delay in diagnosis likely occurs because early ovarian cancer symptoms are difficult to differentiate from abdominal or menstrual discomfort.

In 2015, the American Cancer Society estimated that ovarian cancer would lead to 14,000 deaths and that some 22,000 ovarian cancer diagnoses will be a part of 2016’s 1.7 million cancer diagnoses in the U.S., the AP noted. While there are known ovarian cancer risks—age, obesity, estrogen use after menopause, never having had children, personal or family history of breast or ovarian cancer, and specific genetic mutations—many allege that there is a tie between the genital use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer. Some lawsuits allege that Johnson & Johnson marketed the powders toward obese, Black, and Latino women, according to the AP. The

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified the genital use of talc as “possibly carcinogenic” in 2006. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not indicate talc as an ovarian cancer risk factor, but does note that some 14,500 women will die from ovarian cancer yearly, according to Reuters Health.

Some research has found an association between talcum powder and ovarian cancer as far back as the 1970s and Gynecology Oncology reported in June 2016 that a possible tie was found between baby powder and ovarian cancer that went back to the 1960s. In the 1970s, researchers discovered talc embedded in 75 percent of the ovarian tumors studied and it was in the 1960s that consumers started to discuss issues they had regarding asbestos-contaminated talc.

In 2013, The Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium assembled eight case studies reviewing 8,525 cases and 9,859 controls. The team discovered that, should 40 percent of women use talc genitally—and with a relative risk of 1.2—seven percent of ovarian cancer cases would be caused by talc use. This means approximately 1,577 yearly cases inn the U.S. According to Gynecology Oncology this number is not inconsequential and should not be dismissed and the study author concluded that, “In the interests of public health, I believe we should caution women against using genital talcum powder.” The same year, research published in Cancer Prevention Research revealed that women who used talcum body powder as a feminine hygiene product may face a 20-to-30 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer when compared to women who do not apply talc.

Some research revealed that women who use talc genitally are 40 percent likelier to develop ovarian cancer; other research conducted over the past several decades also discovered the same risk, according to the European Journal of Cancer Prevention. Information from 16 published studies conducted prior to 2003 found a 30 percent increased risk in ovarian cancer in talc users. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention reported that various research found a positive association between talcum powder use in adult women in their genital area with raised ovarian cancer risks. Meanwhile, other research found that ovarian cancer risks were found to be one-third greater in women who regularly powdered their genital area with talc, Reuters Health reported. Women who indicated that they regularly applied talc to their “crotches, sanitary napkins, tampons, and underwear” experienced a 33 percent increased risk of developing ovarian cancer, Epidemiology reported.

Meanwhile, a number of recent studies suggest talcum powder may have similar effects to asbestos and may cause the irreversible lung cancer, mesothelioma.

Potential Options To Replace Talcum Powder

The American Cancer Society also suggests that, until the genital use of talcum powder is better understood, women should consider using cornstarch-based cosmetic products, which have not been associated with cancer.

Mother Nature Network also discussed different options women may use instead of talcum powder, including cornstarch, baking soda, arrowroot starch or tapioca starch, or oat flour.

Help for Those from Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and believes the use of talcum powder caused the ovarian cancer, you should contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP for a free, no-obligation ovarian cancer talcum powder case evaluation. Contact Parker Waichman by calling 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).