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Link Between Talcum Powder and Cancer Ignored For Years

On Behalf of | Jul 2, 2014 | Product Liability

A growing number of Johnson’s Baby Powder lawsuits and Shower-to-Shower lawsuits are now being pursued nationwide by women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, citing a history of studies and other reports that suggest concerns about the link between talcum powder and cancer have gone largely unaddressed for decades.

The use of talc as a body powder began in the late 1800s, and use of the products has grown in recent decades among women following a shower for feminine hygiene purposes.

In recent years, many researchers and medical experts, including the American Cancer Society, have begun to warn women that they should avoid using talc on the genitals, recommending products which use corn starch instead. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, has classified genital use of talc powder as a “possible carcinogen.”

Concerns over the risk of ovarian cancer from talcum powder use by women has gained substantial media attention over the past year, following a June 2013 study published in the medical journal Cancer Prevention Research that found that women who used genital powder containing talc may face a 20% to 30% increased risk of ovarian cancer.

However, signs of a potential link between ovarian cancer and talcum powder date back as far as the 1960s.

In 1961, a study published in the medical journal Fertility and Sterility found that carbon particles that were very similar to those found in talc could migrate from the exterior of a women’s genitals to her ovaries. Another study, published in 1968, found that 19% of talc was made of fibrous content that could cause unexpected health problems, with the fibers compared to those found in asbestos.

Researchers from Harvard were the first to directly link use of talcum powder on women’s genitals to a risk of cancer, finding that use of talc as a femimine hygiene product may increase the risk of ovarian cancer by 92%.

The first study directly linking talcum powder to ovarian cancer was published in 1982 by researchers from Harvard, who found that using talc as a feminine hygiene product on women’s genitals increased the risk of ovarian cancer by 92%.

Despite nearly two dozen studies published, Johnson’s Baby Powder, Shower-to-Shower body powder and other talc-based products are still sold as safe and effective, without providing information about the potential risk.

Talcum Powder Lawsuits

In October 2013, a South Dakota jury found that sufficient evidence was presented during trial to establish a link between Johnson Shower-to-Shower body powder and ovarian cancer developed by a 56 year old woman who had used the product for several decades. During the trial, Harvard University’s Daniel Cramer testified that he has been looking into the links between talc and ovarian cancer for 30 years, and suggested that talcum powder may cause 10,000 cases of ovarian cancer every year.

A similar class action over talc Baby Powder was filed last month in California, seeking to force Johnson & Johnson to properly inform consumers about the potential health risks, including a significantly increased risk of ovarian cancer. Plaintiffs in that case allege that the manufacturer has known for decades about the risk of ovarian cancer, yet the only warnings indicate that users should avoid contact with eyes and keep the powder away from the faces of children to avoid inhalation. Another talcum powder class action lawsuit was filed last month in Illinois.

As more women diagnosed with ovarian cancer learn about the potential link with their prior use of Baby Powder, a number are now considering talc powder injury lawsuits, claiming that the manufacturer placed their desire for profits before consumer safety by withholding the potential risk information from consumers.


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