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Talc Side Effects

People suffering from ovarian cancer have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of talcum-based baby powder. There is growing controversy over the link between talc and cancer.

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Recent stories regarding the safety of products containing talc, especially talcum powders, are all over the news. The primary concern is a possible link between talc and ovarian cancer. 1

Several studies have observed a possible increased risk of epithelial ovarian cancer in women who have used talc-based powders for “feminine hygiene.” 2

Talc and Ovarian Cancer

Recently, in two trial verdicts, juries agreed with two female plaintiffs that Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based baby powder ultimately caused the ovarian cancer that these women developed. One of the plaintiffs died from the disease. 3

For “feminine hygiene,” some women apply powders to their genital area, underwear or sanitary napkins. 4 Thousands of women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer are now coming forward. They allege that talcum powder particles caused their ovarian cancer. 5

Talc and Lung Cancer

Talc is a naturally occurring mineral, often located near the carcinogenic mineral asbestos in the earth. 6

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Because of this naturally occurring close proximity, concerns have arisen that talc, as it is found in nature, may “contain varying amounts of asbestos and other minerals.” The American Cancer Society, however, notes that all “talcum products used in homes in the United States have been asbestos-free since the 1970s.” 7

Only a fifth of ovarian cancers are found at an early stage, when the disease is most treatable. Approximately 94 percent of women diagnosed at an early stage of ovarian cancer live more than five years after their diagnosis.

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer arises from cells that have begun to grow out of control in a woman’s ovaries. 8

Only a fifth of ovarian cancers are found at an early stage, when the disease is most treatable. Approximately 94 percent of women diagnosed at an early stage of ovarian cancer live more than five years after their diagnosis. In contrast, only 39 percent of women diagnosed at Stage III and 17 percent diagnosed at Stage IV advanced ovarian cancer survive more than five years after their diagnosis. 9

One reason that the majority of women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer at later stages is due to the fact that ovarian cancer often causes nonspecific symptoms or no symptoms at all until it progresses to advanced disease. 10

Talcum Powder Lawsuits

Two juries determined that Johnson & Johnson should pay $127 million total in damages to two plaintiffs who claimed that they developed ovarian cancer after using Johnson & Johnson’s talcum-based baby powder. Johnson & Johnson has said it will appeal both decisions. 11

Both plaintiffs said they had used Johnson’s Baby Powder on their vaginal area. They claimed “the talc traveled to their ovaries and accumulated there, causing cancer.” 12

The first suit, decided in February 2016, awarded $72 million to the plaintiff’s estate. 13 The second suit, decided in May 2016, awarded $55 million to the plaintiff. 14

Currently, two additional trials against Johnson & Johnson are expected to begin in New Jersey in September 2016. More than 1,200 similar suits have been filed around the country. 15

  1. http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/25/health/talc-safety-explainer-hln/; http://abcnews.go.com/Health/win-johnson-johnson-talcum-powder-lawsuit-son-honors/story?id=37162943; http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-talcum-powder-cancer-20160503-story.html 

  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=((Ness%20R%5BAuthor%5D)%20AND%20Grisso%20J%5BAuthor%5D)%20AND%20Cottreau%20C%5BAuthor%5D; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27197282; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4820665/; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3766843/ 

  3. https://www.law360.com/articles/792001/j-j-s-talcum-trial-losses-create-litigation-powder-keg 

  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4820665/ 

  5. https://www.law360.com/articles/792001/j-j-s-talcum-trial-losses-create-litigation-powder-keg 

  6. http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductsIngredients/Ingredients/ucm293184.htm 

  7. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/athome/talcum-powder-and-cancer 

  8. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/ovariancancer/detailedguide/ovarian-cancer-what-is-ovarian-cancer 

  9. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/ovariancancer/detailedguide/ovarian-cancer-detection; http://www.cancer.org/cancer/ovariancancer/detailedguide/ovarian-cancer-survival-rates 

  10. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/ovariancancer/detailedguide/ovarian-cancer-signs-and-symptoms 

  11. https://www.law360.com/articles/792001/j-j-s-talcum-trial-losses-create-litigation-powder-keg 

  12. https://www.law360.com/articles/792001/j-j-s-talcum-trial-losses-create-litigation-powder-keg 

  13. https://www.law360.com/articles/792001/j-j-s-talcum-trial-losses-create-litigation-powder-keg 

  14. https://www.law360.com/articles/792001/j-j-s-talcum-trial-losses-create-litigation-powder-keg 

  15. https://www.law360.com/articles/792001/j-j- s-talcum-trial-losses-create-litigation-powder-keg