Blog > Links Between Talcum Powder and Risk of Developing Ovarian Cancer Studied
Posted Sep 09, 2014
image Links Between Talcum Powder and Risk of Developing Ovarian Cancer Studied

Talcum powder—a product that has been a staple across U.S. shelves for over a century—may not be as safe to use as suggested by manufacturers. For decades, research has been conducted studying a possible link to ovarian cancer in women who have repeatedly used these products, such as baby powder or body powder, near their pelvic area for hygienic purposes.

It is believed that when talcum powder is used near the female pelvic area, it may travel to the ovaries and set into ovarian tissue. Although talc itself is a natural mineral, the body has a difficult time removing talc particles, and consequently, inflammation may occur and cancerous tumors may form.

The medical journal The Lancet first published information about this potential link in 1971 based on a study in which researchers discovered that a majority of ovarian tumors had talc particles “deeply embedded” in them. In 1982, researchers found that women using talcum powder during ovulation were at a 92 percent increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.

After those two reports, an additional 21 studies were conducted over the next 30 years, and almost all of them found that women using talc products in the pelvic area were at an increased risk for developing ovarian cancer. A 2003 analysis of 16 of those studies found that women using talcum powder were 33 percent more likely to develop ovarian cancer.

In the past, talcum powder was sometimes contaminated with asbestos, a known cancer-causing agent. This might explain the association with ovarian cancer in some earlier studies but not in the most recent, since products must now be asbestos-free. To date, both the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society deem talc a “risk factor” for ovarian cancer when used near the genital area.

Despite this reported link, talc-based powder manufacturers, such as Johnson & Johnson, have not put warnings about this possible link to ovarian cancer on their popular talcum powder products including Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower. It has been alleged that the company knew about this risk since at least 1982, but failed to warn consumers accordingly.

The company is now facing a number of lawsuits contending that they failed to adequately warn women about the increased risk to ovarian cancer when using talcum powder near the genital area.

In a 2013 case, a plaintiff alleged that she developed ovarian cancer after using Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products for almost 30 years. Although the jury found that Johnson & Johnson should have warned women about the risk of developing ovarian cancer, they didn’t award damages to the plaintiff and did not agree that the products are defective without warning labels.

In addition, a class action has been filed against Johnson & Johnson, but that lawsuit only seeks to recover compensation for the cost of the powders on behalf of consumers who purchased the products, regardless of whether they developed cancer. It will not award damages for medical bills and other costs related to a cancer diagnosis.

That being said, if you or someone you know has developed ovarian cancer after using a talcum or baby powder product, you may be able to individually file a lawsuit apart from the class action. You may be able to seek compensation for any damages stemming from a cancer diagnosis, such as past and future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and, in the event of death of a loved one, funeral expenses. Contact us today for a free consultation and more information about filing an individual lawsuit.

ARONOVITZ LAW: Representing Consumers in Product Liability Cases

The Miami product liability law firm of ARONOVITZ LAW pursues justice for citizens across Florida who have been injured by the wrongful actions or omissions of another individual, government agency, or corporation. We can assist you with civil litigation including consumer class action litigation, whistleblower cases, medical malpractice, product liability, and wrongful death cases.

Contact Miami product liability attorney Tod Aronovitz for a confidential discussion of your case.

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  • About the Author: Tod Aronovitz

     
    As President of The Florida Bar in 2002, Aronovitz served the state’s citizens and legal community through his impassioned leadership and dedication. His “Dignity in Law” Program improved public education and perception of lawyers and remains a part of the Bar’s communications efforts.