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Why Are Women With Ovarian Cancer Who Used Talc Getting Big Money?

by Alex Braitberg on Aug. 09, 2016

Accident & Injury Products Liability Accident & Injury  Personal Injury Health Care  Medical Products & Devices 

Summary: Talcum powder, commonly known as “talc,” has been shown to cause ovarian cancer in women who use it in their genital area for long periods of time. Several recent lawsuits have resulted in multi-million dollar verdicts for talc users.

Women who have used talcum powder products (including baby powder and shower powder) in their genital region for a long period of time and then were diagnosed with ovarian cancer likely have a claim for damages. If you are you a woman who used talc for at least four continuous years, and were diagnosed with ovarian cancer before age 65, you may be entitled to a sizable money award.


Talcum powder, also known as "talc," is made up of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. It is found in cosmetics such as eye shadow and blush, chewing gum, plastic, paint, and ceramics. It is also the main ingredient in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder. Talcum powder is used in baby powder because it efficiently absorbs moisture and reduces friction, which the manufacturer markets as beneficial in preventing rashes.

In talc’s natural state, the powder used to contain asbestos, which is a known cause of cancer. However, asbestos was banned from talcum powder in the 1970s. Even without asbestos, talcum’s chemical structure remains similar, as a silicate mineral with a crystalline structure. Ingestion of such minerals may cause chronic inflammation that can lead to formation of malignant tumors.


Women have commonly sprinkled baby powder on or by genital regions for over a century now. Talcum powder comprises 99.8% of the ingredients in some formulations of baby powder. In order for it to cause ovarian cancer the talcum powder particles travel through the vagina to the ovaries.
Every year, over 14,000 women die from ovarian cancer. Oftentimes symptoms remain unnoticed or dismissed as menstrual cramps. Research has uncovered strong evidence linking talcum powder use, a main component in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder, and serous ovarian cancer. The typical odds of being diagnosed of ovarian cancer for women in America is one in 70—when accounting for talc use, the odds become one in 53.

Dr. Daniel Cramer, an epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, was the first to show a statistical link between genital talc use and ovarian cancer in 1982. An executive at Johnson & Johnson even met with Cramer to discuss the findings of the study, which proves that Johnson & Johnson have been aware of the correlation since at least the release of the study.
At least 20 other studies have reached the same conclusion: Talcum powder use is linked to ovarian cancer. Roberta Ness, the dean of University of Texas School of Public Health, predicts that baby powder could contribute to 2,500 women being diagnosed with and 1,500 women dying from ovarian cancer.


Risk depends on longevity and frequency of use. The most at-risk individuals are described as perineal users. This means that the more frequently and greater time span you applied talc-based powder to the area surrounding genitals, such as underwear or pads, the greater the risk for contracting ovarian cancer. The approximate increased risk associated with perineal talcum powder use is about 33%.

The most common ovarian cancer directly linked to talc use is serous ovarian cancer. This subtype is also the most common subtype among women. Other ovarian cancer subtypes still have links with talcum powder use, however, some studies show a weaker correlation.


Johnson & Johnson rejects the studies performed indicating the correlation between the mineral and the cancer, citing lack of research and evidence to draw such a conclusion. In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Association does not require review of cosmetic products such as baby powders, so there is no federal regulation requiring the disclosure of talcum powder’s potential negative effects. Johnson & Johnson continue the sale of the talcum powders because of the revenue, bringing in $374 million dollars in 2014 alone. For them to eliminate the products would be costly.
If you have reason to believe that a talc manufacturer may be responsible for your ovarian cancer, you need to speak up. The courts are the best outlets to ensure big companies are held accountable for their actions, or lack thereof. The American Cancer Society is warning of the potential risks of talc, so why shouldn’t Johnson & Johnson?


Yes. Corn starch-based products have the same function and performance as talcum powder, and many of Johnson & Johnson’s competitors have switched to that ingredient. Johnson & Johnson also markets corn-starch based products.


If you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and have used Johnson’s Baby Powder consistently for a period of time for intimate feminine hygiene, you may have a claim. The process of how to file a claim differs depending on each state. Hiring an attorney is the easiest route to ensure that this is completed correctly. 


The time for filing a claim varies in each state. Each state has a different statute of limitations, which means that the deadlines depend on where you live. Unfortunately, if the claim is filed too late, you will not be able to recover any money damages.


Johnson & Johnson was found liable for millions of dollars of damages in two recent cases. Future awards may be more, less, or nothing at all. There is no set compensation for Johnson & Johnson’s failure to provide proper warning of the dangers associated with talc. A qualified attorney can work hard to help you maximize the value of your case.

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