Talcum powder is considered an everyday product that many people have used in their life. Many people use it on their babies and infants to prevent diaper rash, while others may use it to prevent chafing and problems with sweat and moisture on their skin.
However, there have been various allegations that talcum powder was manufactured by several companies, including Johnson & Johnson. Most of these lawsuits are cancer-related and the assumption that talcum powder could cause a number of different cancers. In particular, an association with ovarian cancer was investigated. Recent lawsuits have resulted in billions in damages payable in a lawsuit filed by Johnson and Johnson.
There has long been suspicion in the medical community and the general public that talcum powder may be associated with cancer, and particularly with cancer of the reproductive system. Ovarian cancer can result from a number of factors, but some evidence suggests that talc particles can enter the fallopian tubes and ovaries, increasing the risk of ovarian cancer in women who use the product.
The first study to investigate this possibility was in 1971 when 75% of ovarian cancer tumors contained talc particles. Further studies over the years also found a link between talc and ovarian cancer. In 1997 it was shown that Johnson & Johnson, a major manufacturer, knew there might be risks but believed it was too low to be withdrawn from the market or warned of possible risks.
Talc mining companies and Johnson & Johnson continued to argue against the possibility of a link between talc and ovarian cancer. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed by women who use talc products or their families. Billions of dollars have been awarded by judges so far, but thousands of other cases have yet to be decided.
What is talcum powder?
Talcum powder is powdered talc, a magnesium silicate. It is extracted from naturally occurring deposits, which are often found near asbestos deposits. Early talcum powder products might have contained asbestos, but today’s products do not. When a link between asbestos and cancer became clear, manufacturers made sure their products were asbestos-free. Despite talc powder manufacturers insisting their products contain no asbestos, Johnson & Johnson recalled 33,000 bottles of baby powder in 2019 after they were found to contain traces of asbestos.
Talcum powder has been used in several popular Johnson & Johnson products, as well as other brands. This includes J & J’s baby powder and shower-to-shower body powder. Talcum powder is used because it is absorbent and dries moisture, soothes the skin and deals with odors. That is why it is used for various applications, from diaper powder to the care of women to drying after a shower or bath. Many manufacturers are now choosing to replace talcum powder with other powders that perform a well-known function, such as corn starch and arrowroot powder.
Talcum powder injuries and deaths
There are several risks that have been discussed, studied, and studied in relation to talcum powder and talc. Talcum powder is often used to soothe the skin, but talc can be an irritant substance. It has been linked to breathing problems and is known to make asthma and other lung diseases worse. However, the main concern about talc is that it can cause ovarian cancer if used on the genital or perineal area.
For several years there have been lawsuits that not only fight, but also gain recognition for the fact that talcum powder products led to ovarian cancer in women. While it is difficult to know how many cases of talcum powder could be linked to ovarian cancer, thousands of women or their families have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson and other manufacturers who make products that contain talcum powder.
While some may argue that the relationship between cancer and talcum powder is ambiguous, we do know that there is a clear link between asbestos and cancer. Talcum powder is often broken down near asbestos. This means that while companies are doing their best to avoid asbestos contamination, the likelihood remains. A recent Johnson & Johnson product recall came after FDA testing found traces of chrysotile asbestos contamination at levels no greater than 0.00002% in a single bottle. This doesn’t seem like much, but for consumers, even the smallest amount of asbestos is too much.
How could talcum powder cause cancer?
If you’ve heard that baby powder causes cancer, that claim might be truer than you think. Links have been found between ovarian cancer and talcum powder and between talcum powder and mesothelioma, the cancer caused by asbestos. Talcum powder is a product that has long been used by many people. As a result, some may wonder how it is possible that talcum powder is linked to cancer.
The possible link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer is paramount to many. Talcum powder can cause ovarian cancer due to its use as a feminine hygiene product. Many women use talcum powder on sanitary napkins, underwear, or other items that sit close to their vulva. You can also use it directly on your vulva or groin to reduce moisture and irritation, and to prevent chafing or rubbing. With this use, the talc could enter the vagina and travel through the fallopian tubes to the ovaries.
There are several theories about how ovarian cancer may be linked to the use of products that contain talc. One possible cause is direct contact with the mucous membrane when the talc particles migrate through the uterus and fallopian tubes to the ovaries. In addition, the talc particles can suppress some antibodies that are responsible for protecting against cancer, which increases the risk of ovarian cancer.
It has also been speculated that the use of products containing talc could be linked to uterine cancer and possibly even stomach cancer. Some studies have shown that using talcum powder in postmenopausal women can also increase the chances of developing endometrial cancer. Talcum powder use has even been linked to bladder cancer and testicular cancer, although the links to these cancers are not as strong.
Talc and lung cancer could be linked, and there is a link between talc and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma occurs when asbestos particles are inhaled in the air. It is most common in people who work with asbestos, which may include asbestos miners, as well as construction workers and other people who may spend a lot of time with materials that contain asbestos.
There is a possibility that talcum powder could become contaminated with asbestos, which if inhaled can lead to mesothelioma. Talc-mining workers are most at risk of developing lung cancer related to talc, especially as it can be contaminated with asbestos. Lung disease and lung cancer, as well as mesothelioma, are potential risks for people who inhale asbestos. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the dangers of asbestos were recognized, meaning that many people before that time may have used talcum powder products containing asbestos.
Lawsuits and comparisons with talcum powder
There have been many lawsuits against manufacturers of products containing talcum powder, with pharmaceutical and health and beauty giant Johnson & Johnson being the subject of many of them. The outcome of a 2018 case where 22 women sued the company on allegations that use of Johnson & Johnson products led to the development of ovarian cancer meant the company was ordered to pay $ 4.7 billion . The amount handed out by a Missouri judge is the largest settlement amount the company has ever faced. The final amount included damages of $ 550 million and punitive damages of $ 4.1 billion.
Johnson & Johnson has faced approximately 14,000 legal disputes related to talc products. The claims suggest that Johnson & Johnson products, including their baby powder, contain asbestos and can cause cancer. Johnson & Johnson, however, deny both claims.
The first lawsuit against talcum powder was won in 2013 against Johnson & Johnson. The federal court case included testimony from one of the leading experts on the relationship between talk and cancer, Dr. Daniel Cramer. He suggested that talcum powder has been a leading cause of ovarian cancer for many years. During the trial, a Johnson & Johnson attorney admitted a link between talc and ovarian cancer, but said the company considers the risk to be negligible and does not need a warning on product labels.
While there have been some large payouts in cases against Johnson & Johnson, some have been canceled. A lawsuit in California resulted in $ 417 million in damages, but that verdict was later overturned along with another from Missouri. Johnson & Johnson often questions the results of the cases where they are found to be liable, trying to prove that their products are unrelated to cancer and that their products do not contain asbestos.
Other lawsuits resulted in damage from 2016 to 2018, including $ 72 million for the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer and who has used talcum powder for many years. Over $ 5 billion has been awarded to plaintiffs in lawsuits related to talcum powder and ovarian cancer.
Current lawsuits include nearly 7,000 federal trials in the US District Court in New Jersey. There are also hundreds of cases in the New Jersey State Court, 800 in Los Angeles, and 1,700 court cases in St. Louis, Missouri.
In July 2019, Johnson & Johnson filed its case to dismiss thousands of lawsuits. The judicial process for more than 11,000 cases was brought together under one judge. Johnson & Johnson tried to have the judge dismiss the experts. However, the evidence was found admissible.
In addition to the women who have filed ovarian cancer lawsuits, several men have also secured damages. In a recent case, four people in New Jersey alleged that Johnson & Johnson products contained asbestos and caused their cancer. They received $ 37.2 million in damages. The group claimed that as children they were exposed to talc and asbestos from the products their parents used.
Some talc-related litigation has resulted in large amounts of compensation, although some judgments have been overturned. Johnson & Johnson have also won their case multiple times.