When Deane Berg was 49 she was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. While searching the internet for possible causes of this deadly cancer, she was surprised to see talcum powder on the list. Although Berg had no other risk factors, such as endometriosis, she had been using baby powder for feminine hygiene every day, for at least 30 years. “I knew nothing about this before,” said Berg. “I figured baby powder is for babies, it must be safe.”
Ms. Berg was the first in a long line of women who filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, claiming that the manufacturing giant’s baby powder products caused their deadly disease. Johnson & Johnson stands behind its baby powder, saying the product is safe, despite thousands of lawsuits claiming the opposite. In fact, research dating back to 1971 links talc particles used in the genital area to ovarian cancer and cervical tumors. According to this research, and many studies that have been conducted since, talc particles have been found embedded in ovarian tumors. In response, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified talcum powder as a human carcinogen when used for feminine hygiene.
Johnson & Johnson plans to appeal two recent jury awards, both in the tens of millions of dollars. The company says that research linking talc to cancer is flawed. “We have children ourselves,” said Tara Glasgow, the head of research and development for J&J’s baby products franchise. “We would never sell a product we didn’t believe was safe.” A Boston injury lawyer can help if you think you were harmed by a talc-based product.
24% Greater Risk of Developing Ovarian Cancer Among Women Who Use Talcum Powder
In addition to evidence showing that talc particles can enter the vagina and migrate through the fallopian tubes and into the ovaries, talc is often mined near asbestos, a known – and very deadly – carcinogen. In the early 80s, Harvard professor Dr. Daniel W. Cramer led a study comparing 215 healthy women with 215 women who had ovarian cancer. The women who used talcum powder in the genital area regularly had more than three times the risk. Similar studies involving 20,000 women found that talcum powder use is linked to a 24 percent increase for ovarian cancer risk.
As cancers go, ovarian cancer is particularly aggressive, and deadly. In 2008, a nonprofit organization called Cancer Prevention Coalition petitioned the FDA for warning labels on talc-based products. The FDA denied the request. However, in the 2014 denial letter, the agency admitted that talc “may elicit a foreign-body-type reaction and inflammatory response that, in some exposed women, may progress to epithelial cancers.” A MA defective products attorney can help you determine how to move forward if you have developed cancer after using talcum powder.
In 2006, J&J’s talc supplier added a warning label to the talc…but J&J didn’t transfer the warning to its products containing that talc. “Talcum powder is an interesting case, because it’s not something that’s necessary,” said Dr. Anne McTiernan, an epidemiologist at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “If there’s any doubt, why should anyone use it?” Continue reading