Scientists Discover Link Between Talcum Powder Use and Ovarian Cancer
In January 2017, Manhattan scientists discovered a link between women’s hygienic use of talcum powder and increased risks for developing ovarian cancer. The association revealed a significant tie between women’s use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer.
The associate director for cancer prevention at The Tisch Cancer Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital, Dr. Paolo Boffetta, reported the team’s findings in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, according to Newsday. The research utilized information from a meta-analysis that reassessed 24 previously published statistical analyses and a number of prospective studies involving 302,000 patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Among cases reviewed in his analysis, talc use may have dated as far back as decades, Dr. Boffetta said. “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,” Dr. Boffetta said.
“Anything that can get in the peritoneal cavity can increase the risk,” said Dr. Eva Chalas, chief of gynecologic oncology and vice-chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Winthrop-University Hospital. “We discourage patients from using anything that increases irritation or inflammation.”
Parker Waichman LLP has filed numerous lawsuits on behalf of women who alleged that Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products led to serious and life changing adverse health reactions such as ovarian cancer. The actions were filed in the State of Missouri 22nd Circuit Court, City of St. Louis, Cause Number 1622-CC01357.
What is Talc?
Talc is a mineral comprised mostly of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. Talcum powder is frequently added to cosmetic and personal products due to its ability to absorb excess moisture. Talc is also used as a friction reducer. When talc is used as a baby powder, the product keeps skin dry and prevents diaper rash and is also used in pills and chewing gum.
Talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits are filed on behalf of women who used talc-based products in their genital or perineal region, on sanitary napkins, and in their underwear for feminine hygiene purposes. Many ovarian cancer lawsuit plaintiffs allege that plaintiffs used talcum powder for decades prior to their cancer diagnoses, though some say they had used talcum powder for shorter periods.
Talc residues are often found near asbestos deposits. According to the American Cancer Society, talc contains asbestos in its natural form. Asbestos is a carcinogen—a substance known to cause cancer. Federal regulations have required talcum powder products to be asbestos-free since the 1970s. Great care must be taken to avoid contaminating talc with asbestos when mined.
Ovarian Cancer Statistics
Each year, 22,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 14,000 women die of the disease annually, according to statistics from the American Cancer Society. Ovarian cancer is the deadliest cancer of the female reproductive system, is extremely aggressive, and is associated with a low survival rate.
Studies dating back to 1971 suggest that talcum powder used as a feminine hygiene product may lead to the development of ovarian cancer. Scientists believe that when talc is applied to the genital area, small talc particles may migrate into the vagina and eventually to the ovaries. Talc particles cause inflammation, which is thought to contribute to tumor formation.
Plaintiffs want to ensure that the lawsuits brought against Johnson & Johnson will continue even after their deaths. This, given that nearly 60 percent of women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer are diagnosed at stage three when the five-year survival rate may be as low as 34 percent.
Johnson & Johnson Now Facing Thousands of Lawsuits Over its Powder Products
Plaintiffs in talc-related cases allege that J&J misrepresented and hid information about the dangers of talcum powder use in the genital area. J&J was one of the creators of the “Talc Interested Party Task Force” (TIPTF), formed to defend talc use and prevent regulation via self-funded and self-disseminated research reports. Plaintiffs say the group released bogus information about talc safety, using political and economic persuasion on regulatory bodies.
As of February 2017, healthcare giant, Johnson & Johnson, is facing over 2,000 talcum powder lawsuits pending in courts nationwide. Lawsuits were all filed on behalf of women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer after their use of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder or Shower-to-Shower products over a long period of time and for feminine hygiene use.
Plaintiffs also allege that, since the 1970s, mounting studies have shown an association between genital talc use and an increased risk for developing ovarian cancer and that Johnson & Johnson has long been aware of this research but put profits before consumer safety by concealing this information and not warning the public.
One of the largest talcum powder litigations in the United States is underway in Missouri’s 22nd Circuit Court for St. Louis.
Three trials were convened in 2016 there and all three juries delivered verdicts in favor of plaintiffs, ordering Johnson & Johnson to pay compensatory and punitive damage awards that totaled $55 million, $72 million, and $70 million, respectively. Jury selection for the litigation’s fourth trial is scheduled.
Another 100 additional cases have been filed against Johnson & Johnson and centralized in a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) underway in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey: In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation—MDL No.2738. An additional 224 cases are also pending in a multicounty litigation organized in New Jersey’s Atlantic County Superior Court: In Re: Talc-Based Powder Products—Case No. 300. Also, 900 more plaintiffs have filed lawsuits in California state court.
In response to the thousands of lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson filed a bid to delay the trials in the Missouri Court of appeals over allegations that the lawsuits were filed out of jurisdiction. In January 2016, the Missouri Court of Appeals tossed the motion, permitting the lawsuits to proceed in the jurisdiction in which they were filed. The court indicated that, where the plaintiffs reside is unimportant and is allowing the next trial involving 60 plaintiffs. That trial was scheduled for February 6, 2017. Five trials are scheduled after that.
In May 2017, Missouri jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay more than $110 million to a Virginia woman for allegedly failing to disclose the cancer risk from its baby powder and another product, according to USA Today.
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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