After a century of declaring talcum powder safe for use on babies, it’s become one of Johnson & Johnson’s most iconic products. But a recent court case has many people asking: Is talcum powder safe? Plaintiff Deborah Giannecchini was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012. She claims her cancer was caused by Johnson’s® baby powder, which she used for years to maintain feminine hygiene. Johnson & Johnson settled two similar lawsuits totaling $127 million ($72 to one plaintiff, $55 million to another). for Many women use talcum powder in the genital area to absorb moisture and maintain a fresh feeling throughout the day. However, talc-based powders may be unsafe to use for prolonged periods of time — particularly in that area of the body.
Here are three things consumers should know about talcum powder before using it.
1. Studies Show Using Talc Products Can Increase Women’s Risk of Ovarian Cancer
University of Virginia epidemiologist Joellen Schildkraut’s study sheds light on the link between talcum powder use and increased cancer risk. Schildkraut was initially skeptical about the possible connection between talc and ovarian cancer. She decided to use African-American women for her subjects, since they were underrepresented in previous studies about this issue. Additionally, they belong to a segment of the population that uses talcum powder more frequently than white or Hispanic women. Schildkraut’s research team interviewed 584 black women with ovarian cancer and 745 that were cancer-free. Her results showed 63% of ovarian cancer subjects used talcum powder, while 53% of the healthy group also used it. This led Schildkraut to concede there’s an increased ovarian cancer risk from talc use. She now advises women to avoid putting any talc-based powder near the genital region.
Earlier research had similar results, including a 1999 study of 121,000 women on talcum powder application frequency and location. The study showed perineal talc use increased women’s ovarian and cervical cancer risks.
2. Companies Still Won’t Disclose Risks to Consumers Asking, “Is Talcum Powder Safe?”
Despite medical research, J&J refuses to add a warning label to their numerous talcum powder products. Researchers published the first study showing a dangerous link between talc use and ovarian cancer in 1971. Scientists analyzed 13 ovarian tumors and found talc particles deeply embedded in 10 of them. Since then, more than 20 studies conducted over a 40-year period have shown similar results. Johnson & Johnson insists that any research linking talc use and women developing cervical or ovarian cancer is unreliable. In fact, one expert consultant working for J&J even stated that “the science is black and white.” The American Cancer Society would disagree, however, as they classify perineal talc use as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
3. Plaintiffs Have Won Settlements in Talcum Powder Lawsuits
Thousands of women demanded compensation from J&J due to inadequate warnings on their extensive line of body and baby powders. Consumers have used the company’s products daily for decades, unaware of the potential health risks. Doctors diagnosed Gloria Ristesund with ovarian cancer in 2011. While Ristesund is currently in remission, she won $55 million in damages from Johnson & Johnson. Ristesund used talc-based products for daily feminine hygiene over decades. At her talcum powder trial, Ristesund’s lawyer, R. Allen Smith, said: “Science has been simple and consistent over the last 40 years: There’s an increased risk of ovarian cancer from genital use of talc.”
What You Can Do
If you or a loved one developed ovarian cancer after prolonged talcum powder use, you may qualify for compensation. Juries found J&J negligent for not warning consumers about talcum powder risks. Fill out your free talcum powder claim review form today to see if you may have a case.