Hundreds of talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits continue to move toward trial in a consolidated litigation underway in federal court in Missouri. A pretrial order issued on June 20, 2016 changed a trial starting date of February 21, 2017 to February 6, 2017.
The cases to be tried involves six plaintiffs who claim that regular, repeated use of Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based Baby Powder and Shower to Shower powder contributed to the development of ovarian cancer.
Earlier this year, juries in two talcum powder cases tried in St. Louis returned multimillion-dollar damage awards to the plaintiffs. One award was made to the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer in 2015, and the other award was to a cancer survivor. A large portion of both awards consists of punitive damages, which are intended to punish Johnson & Johnson. J&J said it plans to appeal both verdicts.
A number of studies have connected women’s use of talcum powder for feminine hygiene with an increased risk of ovarian cancer. The American Cancer Society explains how talcum powder might cause ovarian cancer if the powder is applied to the genital area, on sanitary napkins, or in the underwear. Minute talc particles can migrate through the vagina and fallopian tubes into the ovaries and cause inflammation. Inflammation is thought to contribute to tumor formation. Many of the women who have filed talcum powder lawsuits report decades of regular talcum powder use.
Talc is the softest mineral on earth and is used in a variety of products, including body powders, because of its ability to absorb odors and moisture. Talc is used in cosmetic products-face powders and blush-and in ceramics, paint, paper, plastic, and rubber. Recently, however, condom and surgical glove manufacturers have stopped dusting their products with talc. Baby Powder carries a warning to avoid letting the baby inhale the powder, but there is no warning for women who use the powder in the genital area.
The first scientific study to report a possible connection between a woman’s talcum powder use and ovarian cancer was published in 1971, Bloomberg reports. In 1982, Harvard professor Dr. Daniel W. Cramer and his colleagues found that women who used talcum powder were at nearly twice the risk of developing ovarian cancer. Women who used talcum powder regularly on their genitals or sprinkled it on their underwear, tampons or sanitary pads were at more than three times the relative risk, according to the New York Times.
Ovarian cancer often has a poor prognosis because it is usually not diagnosed until later stages when it has spread. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says about 20,000 American women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer annually and about 14,000 die from the disease. Early symptoms of ovarian cancer are often dismissed as menstrual or abdominal discomfort and there is no approved screening test to catch the disease early.
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