Everything causes cancer, right? Our microwaves, fried chicken, and… baby powder? You may have heard that talcum powder is carcinogenic and wonder, “How is that possible? How can something we almost universally sprinkle on babies be dangerous?” Here are some talcum powder facts to be aware of, including why litigation proceedings are currently underway.
Talcum Powder Facts: Talc’s Mineral Origin
Talc is a naturally occurring mineral obtained through mining. It’s also quite soft, which is why it’s a top ingredient in cosmetic products. Talc usually develops within the Earth naturally, typically next to asbestos. Asbestos is a known carcinogen and has a different chemical structure than talc. Talcum powder manufacturers must ensure that no asbestos contaminates their talc products. This is done through proper purification as well as carefully selecting talc mining sites.
Talcum Powder Facts: What Scientists and Researchers Say
Scientists first discovered talc within cervical and ovarian tumors in the early 1970s. British researchers examined 13 ovarian tumors and found talc particles deeply embedded in 10 of them. Since then, several studies have shown possible links between talc and ovarian cancer. For example, the Nurses Health Study involving 121,000 U.S. women found no significant link between talc usage and ovarian cancer. However, the study found one notable exception: perineal talc use may “modestly increase the risk of invasive serous ovarian cancer.”
Another Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston study compared women with ovarian cancer to cancer-free subjects. Lead researcher Daniel Cramer found that women who use talcum powder perineally have a significantly higher cancer risk than women who don’t.
Talcum Powder Facts: Plaintiffs Say Johnson and Johnson’s Talcum Powder Products Caused Cancer
Daniel Cramer published a study in 1982 that describes a meeting he had with one J&J executive shortly after completing his research. “Dr. Semple [the executive] spent his time trying to convince me that talc use was a harmless habit, while I spent my time trying to persuade him to consider the possibility that my study could be correct and that women should be advised of this potential risk of talc.” Cramer thinks pride in their signature product, baby powder, kept J&J from disclosing any potential cancer risks.
Jacqueline Fox died of ovarian cancer in 2015 after using talcum powder for decades. A jury awarded Fox’s family $72 million in damages. During the trial, Fox’s attorneys introduced a September 1997 internal memo into evidence. The memo stated: “anybody who denies (the) risks” between “hygenic” talc use and ovarian cancer will be publicly perceived in the same light as those denying a link between smoking cigarettes and cancer: “denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.”
While an appeals court overturned that award, another, more recent jury ordered J&J to pay $2.12 billion to 22 anonymous ovarian cancer plaintiffs. While the company appealed, a court recently upheld the verdict and monetary award totaling more than $96 million per claimant.
What You Can Do
The pharmaceutical company has a responsibility to warn consumers of the potential side effects and dangers of their product. In fact, it’s something J&J has failed to do for decades. If you or a loved one used talcum powder products and then developed ovarian cancer, you may be eligible for compensation. Fill out your free talcum powder case review today to find out if your claim may qualify.
Mandy Voisin is a freelance writer, blogger, and author of Girls of the Ocean and Star of Deliverance. As an accomplished content marketing consultant, mom of four and doctor's wife, Mandy has written hundreds of articles about dangerous drugs and medical devices, medical issues that impact disabled Americans, veterans' healthcare and workers' compensation issues since 2016.