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Study Links Talcum Powder Use to Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer

Jan 24, 2017

Meta-Analysis Finds Association Between Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer

Study Links Talcum Powder Use to High Risk of Ovarian Cancer

A new study has found that use of talcum powder is associated with a small, but statistically significant increased risk of ovarian cancer. The study was conducted by doctors in Manhattan, who re-analyzed data from previous studies. The findings were published January 2017 in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention. There have been questions surrounding the cancer risk associated with genital use of talcum powder, especially given the numerous talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson.

The product liability attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP have decades of experience representing clients in lawsuits over allegedly defective or dangerous products. The firm, which keeps up-to-date with talcum powder ovarian cancer research, continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit.

The study was led by Dr. Paolo Boffetta, associate director for cancer prevention at The Tisch Cancer Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital and a former chief of environmental cancer epidemiology with the World Health Organization. Boffetta and his team conducted a meta-analysis, using data from 24 previously published studies along with prospective studies involving 302,000 patients with ovarian cancer.

"Overall, it is about a 20 percent higher risk for women who say they used talc, compared to women who say they did not use it," said Boffetta, according to Newsday. Although the findings produced a statistically significant link, it does not mean that talcum powder causes ovarian cancer. Additionally, the authors of the study do not have evidence of a mechanism linking talcum powder use to ovarian cancer. Boffetta said to Newsday, "It would be premature to conclude that talc use causes ovarian cancer,"

Among cancers of the female reproductive system, ovarian cancer is the deadliest. Doctors say that most cases of ovarian cancer cannot be pinpointed to a cause (are sporadic) and women are often not diagnosed until late stages because symptoms can be vague.

Dr. Eva Chalas, chief of gynecologic oncology and vice-chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, commented "The whole issue of talcum powder is seen as a possible agent. We don't have strong links. Anything that can get in the peritoneal cavity can increase the risk," according to Newsday. "We discourage patients from using anything that increases irritation or inflammation."

Dr. Chalas also pointed out that precautions are important because there is no screening for ovarian cancer.

The recent study does not provide a direct causal relationship between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. As part of the meta-analysis, researchers re-assessed data from previous studies to see if they could identify a new finding. The authors found that talc-based products were associated with a small, statistically significant association with serous carcinoma, which is the most common form of ovarian cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed each year; 14,000 women die of ovarian cancer annually. Newsday reports, "Studies suggest some women regularly use talc-containing powders for feminine hygiene purposes, but doctors are cautioning them to avoid the products."

Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Lawsuits and Verdicts

Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Lawsuits and Verdicts

Johnson & Johnson continues to face a flood of talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits. Plaintiffs alleged that the company failed to disclose a link between talc and ovarian cancer, specifically with regards to its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower talcum powder products. Talcum powder lawsuits were transferred into a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) in New Jersey before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson.

In 2016, three talcum powder verdicts were issued in favor of plaintiffs. Most recently, a jury awarded $70 million to a California woman who used talcum powder in the genital region for 45 years. She was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer, allegedly due to talcum powder use.

Previously, jurors awarded talcum powder verdicts of $72 million and $55 million.

Plaintiffs allege that use of talcum powder in the genital region contributed to ovarian cancer, and that J&J failed to properly warn consumers about this risk. Lawsuits cite previous research findings, including findings published in 1971 discussing talc particles embedded in ovarian tumors. One study published in 1982 also suggested an increased risk of ovarian cancer with talc. Findings have produced mixed results overall.

Talcum powder ovarian cancer trials are slated for 2017. One talcum powder lawsuit is scheduled for trial in February. The case will involve six talcum powder plaintiffs.

Bellwether cases are the first several lawsuits in a mass tort to go to trial. These are considered "test cases" because they provide both parties an opportunity to see how their legal arguments are received in court. The outcome of bellwether trials can influence the remaining litigation. For example, if large verdicts are awarded to the plaintiff it can facilitate settlement talks.

Talcum powder contains talc, a mineral composed of magnesium, silicon and oxygen. Talc is a common ingredient in cosmetic and personal products because it absorbs excess moisture and reduces friction. Talcum powder is therefore used in baby powder because it keeps skin dry and prevents diaper rash. Many adult body and facial powders are also talc-based. Talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits are filed on behalf of women who used talc-based products in the genital or perineal region, on sanitary napkins or in their underwear for feminine hygiene.

Many talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits are filed individually, but court records also show that class action lawsuits have been filed. One class action was recently filed on behalf of 81 plaintiffs. Like other talcum powder ovarian cancer claims, the lawsuit alleges that talcum powder led to ovarian cancer. The suit alleges that the cancer resulted from the "unreasonably dangerous and defective nature of talcum powder and [Johnson & Johnson's] wrongful and negligent conduct in the research, development, testing, manufacture, production, promotion, distribution, marketing, and sale of talcum powder."

Questions about Talcum Powder Lawsuits?

If you or someone you know wants to learn more about filing a talcum powder lawsuit, contact the personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman today. Our firm offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).

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