What is Talcum Powder and Its Uses and Issues?
Talcum powder is a mineral made up of various elements including magnesium, silicon and oxygen. It is mined from the earth and then ground to make talcum powder. Talcum powder is used in a wide variety of products to absorb moisture.
Products that contain talcum powder:
- Baby powder
- body powders
- Gold Bond
- Summer’s Eve Body Powder
- Nivea Pure Talc
- Perfumed powders
- Shower to Shower and Cashmere Bouquet body powders
- Pressed cosmetic powders, including face powder, eye shadows and blush
- Some deodorants
- Some condoms and diaphragms
Popular brand names:
- Johnson’s Baby Powder
- Shower to Shower
- Cashmere Bouquet
- Gold Bond Medicated Body Powder
- Summer’s Eve Body Powder
- Nivea Pure Talc
In recent years, research has linked talc to deadly cancers, specifically ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.
Talcum Powder for Feminine Hygiene
For more than a century, Johnson & Johnson marketed its Johnson’s Baby Powder, Shower to Shower body powder, and other talcum powder products as safe, even for infants. Many women grew up using the product not only to care for their babies, but also for their own personal hygiene based on the recommendation of their mothers and grandmothers. For generations, women were told a sprinkle of talcum powder on their genitals would keep them dry and fresh.
Ads dating back to the 1980s for Shower to Shower body powder pushed the message, “just a sprinkle a day keeps odor away,” and reminded women that “Your body perspires in more places than just under your arms.”
In 2006, Johnson & Johnson launched a campaign to encourage minority women and overweight women to use its talcum powder as a genital antiperspirant and deodorant. According to internal documents, the company distributed baby powder samples through churches and beauty salons in African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods, and reached out to weight loss company Weight Watchers for other promotions. These efforts were allegedly designed to target “curvy Southern women 18-49 skewing African American.”
What Johnson & Johnson wasn’t telling women is that it was aware of studies from as early as the 1960s that were drawing a concerning link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer.
Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer
In the 1960s, Harvard University researcher D. Daniel Cramer and colleagues saw a possible link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, noting that some talcum powders contained asbestos, and asbestos placed intraperitoneally on the surface of the ovaries of animals resulted in multilayered abnormal cell growth. In 1971, researchers observed talc in human ovarian and uterine cancers.
A 1982 case-controlled study was the first to link genital use of talcum powder to ovarian cancer. Since then, dozens of studies involving thousands of women have found that genital use of talcum powder increases the risk for the deadly disease, including one that found women who have used talcum powder on their genitals were 30 percent more likely to develop ovarian cancer than those who haven’t.
In 2016, researchers with the University of Virginia focused their research on African American women, believing this demographic was more likely to have used talcum powder in this manner. They found that African American women who used talcum powder for feminine hygiene were 40 percent more likely to develop cancer than those who did not use talcum powder on their genitals.
Researchers with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, conducting a National Institute of Health-funded ovarian cancer study, suggested that talcum powder causes inflammation in the body that can lead to cancer.
Today, the American Cancer Society’s website lists talcum powder use as a risk factor for ovarian cancer. Dr. Cramer, who has studied the link between talc and ovarian cancer for decades, believes genital use of talc – either by applying the talc directly to the genitals or dusting it on sanitary napkins – allows small particles to migrate up the vagina and fallopian tubes to the ovaries, where the particles can remain for years. This can cause inflammation of the ovaries, which can cause cancer.
Another possible reason why talc can cause ovarian cancer is that talc can become contaminated with asbestos, a known carcinogen.
Asbestos in Talcum Powder
Asbestos is a known carcinogen. Because talc is mined from rock and soil, often in the same proximity and manner as asbestos, talcum powder can become contaminated with asbestos. “During talc mining, if talc mining sites are not selected carefully and steps are not taken to purify the talc ore sufficiently, the talc may be contaminated with asbestos,” the FDA said in a news release.
Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that is both durable and fire-resistant. It is used to make a variety of products including construction and shipbuilding materials, like insulations, cement products, and floor tiles; as well as friction products, like vehicle brakes and brake pads.
On Oct. 19, Johnson & Johnson recalled about 33,000 bottles of Johnson’s Baby Powder after testing revealed that samples of the company’s talcum powder were contaminated with asbestos. The recall prompted retailers – including Walmart, Rite Aid, CVS and Target – to pull all 22-ounce bottles Johnson’s Baby Powder from their shelves and in some cases issue a “Do Not Sell” register prompt as a precaution.
In recent years, asbestos has been banned in more than 60 countries and its use limited in the United States. It had been known for decades that exposure to the microscopic fibers of asbestos could lead to cancers, including mesothelioma.
Asbestos exposure is most often linked to mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that forms in the lining of internal organs such as the lungs, abdomen, or chest.
Asbestos In Cosmetics
Recent testing of cosmetic products by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has revealed asbestos in talc-based products sold by major retailers including Johnson & Johnson, Claire’s and Beauty Plus Global. This testing has led to product recalls, including Johnson’s Baby Powder.
Since 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been conducting an ongoing survey of cosmetic products for asbestos. In that time, the agency has warned consumers when products have tested positive for asbestos and advised them to stop using them.
FDA testing has identified asbestos in the following talc-based cosmetics:
Oct. 18, 2019 – Johnson & Johnson (Recall)
- Johnson’s Baby Powder, Lot #22318RB
Sept. 6, 2019 – Beauty Plus Global (Recall)
- Beauty Plus Global Inc. City Color Collection Matte Blush (Fuchsia), SKU #849136008807, Lot No. 1605020/PD-840
- Beauty Plus Global Inc. City Color Cosmetics Timeless Beauty Palette, SKU #849136012958, Lot No. 1510068/PD-C864R
- Beauty Plus Global Inc. City Color Bronzer (Sunset), SKU #849136016017, Lot No. 160634/PD-P712M
- Beauty Plus Global Inc. Beauty Plus Global Inc. City Color Shimmer Bronzer (Caramel), SKU #849136017106, Lot No. 1612112/PD-840
June 6, 2019 – Beauty Plus Global and Claire’s Stores Inc. (Recall)
- Beauty Plus Global Contour Effects Palette 2, Batch No. S1603002/PD-C1179
- Claire’s JoJo Siwa Makeup Set, SKU #888711136337, Batch/Lot No. S180109
March 5, 2019 – Claire’s Stores Inc. (Consumer Alert)
- Claire’s Eye Shadows – Batch No/Lot No: 08/17
- Claire’s Compact Powder – Batch No/Lot No: 07/15
- Claire’s Contour Palette – Batch No/Lot No: 04/17
Talcum Powder Lawsuits
Johnson & Johnson faces nearly 12,000 talcum powder lawsuits alleging it knew its talcum powder products could cause cancer but failed to notify federal regulators or warn consumers.
Since February 2016, Beasley Allen attorneys have partnered with other law firms across the country to try numerous cases of women alleging Johnson & Johnson’s talc caused their ovarian cancer. Many of those talc powder lawsuits have been tried and resulted in awards totaling $724 million.
Beasley Allen talcum powder attorneys are investigating talc powder lawsuits of cases of cancer caused by talcum powder products under brands made by other manufacturers.
Talcum Powder Lawyers
Beasley Allen’s Talc Litigation team includes talcum powder lawyers. They have been privileged to represent thousands of women who developed ovarian cancer after using Johnson & Johnson talcum powder on their genitals for feminine hygiene and continues to investigate these cases regardless of the brand.
If you or a loved one has developed ovarian cancer after using talcum powder on the genitals for feminine hygiene, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, loss of wages, and pain and suffering.
Contact us for a free consultation with the leaders in talcum powder lawsuits.