For decades, talcum powder products such as Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower have been ubiquitous in American homes. But a growing body of research now indicates that use of talcum powder for feminine hygiene may increase the risk that woman will develop ovarian cancer.
Talcum powder is manufactured from mineral talc, which is composed of hydrated magnesium silicate. Numerous personal hygiene and cosmetic products contain talc, including
In powder form, talc is very effective at absorbing moisture and reducing friction. As such, talcum powder products are used on a daily basis by many people to help the skin stay dry and to prevent rashes and chafing.
Naturally-occurring talc does contain some asbestos. However, household talcum products have not contained asbestos since the 1970s.
The use of talcum powder products have been linked to some adverse health consequences:
Since the 1970s, over 20 studies have been published that link the use of talcum powder products to ovarian cancer. A meta-analysis involving 16 of these studies published in 2003 found that women who regularly used talcum powder for feminine hygiene purposes were 33% more likely to develop the disease compared to those who did not.
When a woman applies the powder to the groin area, particles may travel through the vagina and into the uterus and along the fallopian tubes to the ovaries. The accumulating talc can take years to dissolve, resulting in inflammation.
Johnson & Johnson is currently named a defendant in a dozens of talcum powder lawsuits filed on behalf of women who allegedly developed ovarian cancer due to their regular, repeated use of Shower to Shower and Johnson’ Baby Powder for feminine hygiene. Two cases have already gone to trial, including a Missouri lawsuit that ended in February 2016 with a $72 million verdict in favor of the plaintiff. In October 2013, a Sioux Falls, South Dakota jury found that the use of Johnson & Johnson’s products contributed to the development of ovarian cancer in another woman. However, no damages were awarded in the case.
In November 2015, the New Jersey Superior Court created a multicounty litigation for Johnson & Johnson talcum powder lawsuits in Atlantic County Superior Court. Court documents indicate that more than 130 cases were pending in the proceeding as of February 2016. (In Re: Talc-Based Powder Products – Case No. 300)
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