What is Talcum Powder?
Talc 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:
- Johnson’s Baby Powder
- Shower to Shower and Cashmere Bouquet body powders
- Pressed cosmetic powders, including face powder, eye shadows and blush
- Some deodorants
- Some condoms and diaphragms
In recent years, talc has been linked to deadly cancers, especially 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, researchers 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. According to the nonprofit organization, talcum powder may cause ovarian cancer if the particles travel through the vagina, uterus and fallopian tubes to the ovary. This can occur if talcum powder is applied to the genitals or on sanitary napkins.
One possible reason that talc can cause cancer may be because it can become contaminated with asbestos.
Is there 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.
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.
In recent years, asbestos was banned in more than 60 countries, and its use was limited in the United States, since researchers found that the microscopic fibers of asbestos can enter the human body through inhalation, ingestion or other means, and cause serious health problems, including cancer.
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.
Talcum Powder Lawsuits
Johnson & Johnson faces nearly 12,000 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 talcum powder lawsuits have been tried and resulted in awards totaling $724 million.
Talcum Powder Attorney
Beasley Allen’s Talc Litigation team has been privileged to represent thousands of women who developed ovarian cancer after using talcum powder on their genitals for feminine hygiene and continues to investigate these cases.
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 litigation.