Scores of women across the United States have developed ovarian cancer, allegedly as a result of using talcum powder as a feminine hygiene product.
Many of these women have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, maker of Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder, for failing to give consumers adequate warnings about the ovarian cancer risk. Plaintiffs have alleged that Johnson & Johnson concealed information about the cancer risks and should be held responsible for the illnesses.
Ovarian cancer is an aggressive form of the disease with a high five-year mortality rate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says about 20,000 American women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer annually and about 14,000 women die from the disease each year. Early symptoms of ovarian cancer are often taken for menstrual or other abdominal discomfort. There is currently no diagnostic test to catch the disease early. Ovarian cancer is often not diagnosed until later stages when the disease has spread and the prognosis is poor.
Talcum Powder Lawsuits
Product liability lawyers, including attorneys at Parker Waichman, are reviewing potential talcum powder lawsuits for women throughout the United States. Earlier this year, two cases tried in St. Louis were decided in favor of the plaintiffs. One jury awarded $55 million to a woman who developed ovarian cancer; another jury awarded $72 million to the family of a woman who died from the disease. J&J appealed the $55 million award but the court upheld the award.
Talc is a naturally occurring mineral that is widely used in cosmetics, household and and personal care products, including paint, eye shadow, and blush. Condoms and surgical gloves were dusted with talc to make them easier to put on. Talc absorbs moisture, prevents caking and improves the product’s feel. Talcum powder is used to prevent chafing and rashes. Many women use talcum powder for feminine hygiene, applying talcum powder directly to the genital area or sprinkling powder on their underwear or sanitary pads. Many of the ovarian cancer lawsuit plaintiffs say they used talcum powder for decades before their cancer diagnoses, though some say they had used talcum powder for shorter periods.
Several studies have confirmed that talcum powder applied the genital area may travel through the vagina and into the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, causing inflammation that may lead to the development of cancer. Use of talc in cosmetics and personal care products is not regulated in the United States.
Plaintiffs argue that Johnson & Johnson should have added a label warning to its talcum powders about the possible ovarian cancer risk. J&J’s talc supplier, Imerys, has a warning on the talc it sells to J&J. Baby Powder carries a warning to parents not to let the infant inhale the powder because of possible respiratory effects, but there is no warning to women.
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 the safety of talc and used political and economic persuasion on regulatory bodies.
Talcum Powder Marketing to Women
Johnson’s Baby Powder has been on the market for more than 100 years. Baby Powder was first marketed to treat diaper rash but by 1913 Johnson & Johnson was promoting the powder to women with slogans like, “Best for baby, best for you,” according to Consumer Advocacy News. By the 1950s, J&J’s print advertising included discount coupons and asked women, “Want to feel cool, smooth, and dry?” J&J’s answer: “It’s as easy as taking powder from a baby.”
Because women have been using baby powder for feminine hygiene for decades, before the connection to ovarian cancer was known, it is difficult to calculate the actual number of baby powder cancer victims. Talcum powder users likely died talc-related ovarian cancer decades before research showed the connection. Some women and their families have only recently discovered are that they or their loved ones might be victims of J&J’s negligence. One example is a woman named Paula who lost her mother to ovarian cancer in 1994. Paula’s mother used Johnson’s Baby Powder for feminine hygiene beginning in the 1970s up until her death. No one in the family knew that prolonged use of baby powder could be linked to ovarian cancer, but Paula believes her mother would never have used the powder if she had been aware of the risk. The family has filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson.
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, according to the Associated Press. Plaintiffs say the group released bogus information about the safety of talc and used political and economic persuasion on regulatory bodies.
In a study published in1971, British researchers who analyzed ovarian tumors found talc particles “deeply embedded” in 10 tumors. In 1982 a study in the journal Cancer by Dr. Daniel Cramer, an epidemiologist at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, showed the first statistical link between genital talc use and ovarian cancer, Bloomberg News reports.
Since 1999, the American Cancer Society has been suggesting that women consider using a cornstarch-based powder rather than talcum powder for feminine hygiene. J&J’s competitors, including Gold Bond, California Baby, and Burt’s Bees, sell baby powder made of cornstarch only.
Legal Help for Women with Talcum Powder-Related Cancer
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after long-term talcum powder use, the experienced attorneys at Parker Waichman can help you. Please contact Parker Waichman today for a free, no obligation case evaluation. Fill out the firm’s online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).