Ovarian Cancer Talcum Powder Lawsuit

Ovarian Cancer Talcum Powder Lawsuits

Holding Johnson & Johnson Accountable for Asbestos and Heavy Metal Contamination in Talcum Powder

More than 16,000 women across the country have filed baby powder lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson—the world’s largest manufacturer of health care products—claiming the pharmaceutical giant failed to warn the public about the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. Billions of dollars in damages have already been awarded to victims in multiple talc cases against J&J (although many cases are on appeal).

In April of 2020, U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson ruled that thousands of pending claims will be allowed to move forward. The talc lawsuits allege J&J baby powder products are contaminated with asbestos and can cause ovarian cancer.

Johnson & Johnson announced on May 19, 2020 that it will discontinue making its baby powder products due to a decline in sales amid mounting lawsuits. This is good news for consumers.

Our attorneys at Baum Hedlund are representing women in baby powder cancer cases across the country. If you used Johnson & Johnson’s signature talc-based Baby Powder for feminine hygiene uses and developed ovarian cancer, it is in your best interest to speak with a baby powder attorney immediately to discuss your claim.

Baum Hedlund is offering free no-obligation baby powder cancer case consultations for those interested in pursuing a talcum powder lawsuit. Contact us at (855) 948-5098 today.

Research on Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer

Talcum powder is made from the mineral talc, which is an ingredient in a wide variety of products we use each and every day. When talc is crushed into a powder, it can absorb moisture, oils and odor, making it popular for use in bath and body products. Talcum powder can also be used as a lubricant or an astringent on human skin.

According to Bloomberg, researchers discovered the possibility of a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer about 45 years ago. Johnson & Johnson, which brought in an estimated $374 million in 2014 from talcum product sales, has denied this link for decades despite the growing body of peer-reviewed research underscoring the ovarian cancer and talcum powder link.

Below are some of the major talcum powder cancer studies:

  • 1971 – Researchers found talc particles while studying the ovarian cellular tissues of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The study, which was published in The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the British Commonwealth, warned that the “potentially harmful effects of talc…in the ovary…should not be ignored.” This is when the medical community first became aware that talc particles can easily migrate from the vagina into the reproductive organs when baby powder is used for feminine hygiene.
  • 1982 – A study published in the medical journal Cancer showed the first statistical link between feminine hygiene talcum powder use and ovarian cancer. This study found that women who used sanitary napkins with talcum powder were three times more likely to develop ovarian cancer when compared to those who didn’t use sanitary napkins with talcum powder.
  • 1992 – A Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology study which found that frequent use of baby powder increases a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer threefold. The same year, an internal Johnson & Johnson memo stated that “negative publicity from the health community on talc (inhalation, dust, negative doctor endorsement, cancer linkage) continues.” While acknowledging this negative publicity surrounding reported health risks, the memo also made a recommendation to “investigate ethnic (African-American, Hispanic) opportunities to grow the franchise,” noting that African-American and Hispanic women account for a large proportion of J&J’s baby powder sales.
  • 1997 – An American Journal of Epidemiology study affirmed that perineal talcum powder use contributes to the risk of developing cancer. The baby powder cancer study further suggested that the use of talcum genital deodorant sprays also contribute to cancer growth.
  • 2003Anticancer Research performed a meta-analysis of 16 talcum powder studies and found “statistically significant” data suggesting that feminine hygiene use of talcum powder increased the risk developing ovarian cancer by 33 percent. Nonetheless, the study reported no causal relationship.
  • 2008 – In a study published by Cancer Epidemiology, researchers from Harvard University compared approximately 1,400 women, who had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, to 1,800 healthy women. The baby powder cancer study found that the use of talcum powder was associated with a 36 percent increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
  • 2013 – A Cancer Prevention Research study found that feminine hygiene use of talcum powder was associated with a 20 to 30 percent increased risk in developing ovarian cancer.

The results of the last three studies prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to classify talc as a “possible human carcinogen.” It should be noted that the studies listed above are not the only ones to find a link between baby powder and ovarian cancer. Since 1982, there have been 20 other epidemiological studies finding that long-term use of baby powder for feminine hygiene increases one’s risk of developing ovarian cancer.

How Does Talcum Powder Cause Cancer?

Baby powder is made from talc, which is a mineral primarily comprised of magnesium, silicon and oxygen. Plaintiffs in the litigation against Johnson & Johnson allege talcum powder products contain asbestos, which is a highly carcinogenic mineral often found next to talc underground. Additionally, when talcum powder is used on the genitals, talc particles can easily migrate from the vagina into the ovaries, where they remain trapped. These trapped talc particles cause inflammation, which can lead to the growth of cancer cells.

Despite the volume of studies pointing to the connection between baby powder and ovarian cancer, neither Johnson & Johnson nor the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ever warned consumers in the United States about the health risks. Even after scientists with the National Toxicology Program (an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) voted 13-2 to list feminine hygiene use of talcum powder as a possible human carcinogen, Johnson & Johnson has continued to deny the link to ovarian cancer and refused to put a warning label on its baby powder products – although in May 2020, the company made the extraordinary decision to pull its talc-based Baby Powder from North American markets.

Time and time again, Johnson & Johnson has referred to the volume of studies finding a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer as inconclusive or “junk science.” This stance, as well as the company’s failure to inform the public about the link between baby powder and cancer, has compelled over 1,000 women to file baby powder cancer lawsuits over the last eight years.

Call (855) 948-5098 or complete the online form to get in touch with our legal team.

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Talcum Powder FAQs

  • Q:What Is Talcum Powder?

    A:Talcum powder comes from the talc mineral, which consists of magnesium, silicon and oxygen. Talc is mined from metamorphic rocks of convergent plate boundaries all over the planet. Most of the talc mines in the United States are found along the east side of the Appalachian Mountains. California, Texas, Nevada, New Mexico, Idaho, and Montana are also considered talc-rich areas of the country. Nearly all of the world’s talc output comes from China. Other countries heavily involved in the talc trade include India, Brazil, France, Italy, Finland, Japan, and South Korea.

  • Q:How is Talcum Powder Made?

    A:When talc is crushed into a fine powder, the resulting substance can absorb moisture, oils and odor, which makes it a common ingredient for use in bath and body products, particularly baby powder. While talcum powder remains a popular product, especially among women, the medical community has long expressed concern about the potential health effects associated with feminine hygiene use of talcum powder. In fact, studies going back to the 1970s show that women who regularly use talcum powder for feminine hygiene may be more at risk of developing ovarian cancer.

  • Q:How Is Talcum Powder Used?

    A:Talcum powder absorbs moisture, so it is widely used on babies to prevent diaper rash, as an additive in latex gloves, in cosmetics, and in bath and body products. The most iconic of these is Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder – their signature product and the target of the most recent lawsuits.

  • Q:Who Makes Talcum Powder Products?

    A:The largest manufacturer of talcum powder products is Johnson & Johnson (J&J), which rolled out its first talc-based product back in 1893. Sales of the company’s talcum powder products amounted to roughly $374 million in 2014 alone.

  • Q:How Does Talcum Powder Cause Cancer?

    A:In a 1971 study, researchers discovered talc particles embedded in tumors found in the ovaries of 10 out of 13 women. This finding led to the theory that talcum powder can travel from the vagina, through the Fallopian tubes and eventually into the ovaries, where the talc particles become trapped. The trapped talc particles lead to inflammation, which can cause the growth of cancer cells.

  • Q:What Are the Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?

    A:While the early stages of ovarian cancer can be symptomless, women often report the following before their diagnosis: abdominal bloating, abdominal swelling, abdominal or pelvic pain, frequent need to urinate and difficulty eating or feeling full quickly. Other symptoms of ovarian cancer include: weight loss, back pain, constipation, fatigue, pain during sex, menstrual changes, and vaginal bleeding after menopause. 

  • Q:Can I File a Talcum Powder Lawsuit?

    A:The answer to this question hinges on how strongly your ovarian cancer can be traced to feminine hygiene use of talcum powder. If you used talcum powder for feminine hygiene over the course of many years and developed ovarian cancer, you may have a case against Johnson & Johnson. The duration of talcum powder use does not necessarily validate a claim, which is why it is in your best interest to consult with a talcum powder attorney who can investigate your case and determine if you have a claim.

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Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Lawsuits

The first Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder lawsuit was filed in 2008 by Deane Berg, a woman in her 50s who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006. She used baby powder for about 30 years as part of her personal feminine hygiene routine.

During Berg’s case, Dr. Daniel Cramer testified as an expert witness and suggested that talcum powder use has been the cause of a number of ovarian cancer diagnoses throughout the years. Dr. Cramer was the lead author of one of the most widely-cited baby powder cancer studies, Presence of Talc in Pelvic Lymph Nodes of a Woman With Ovarian Cancer and Long-Term Genital Exposure to Cosmetic Talc (2007). As the trial continued, a Johnson & Johnson attorney admitted at one point that the company was aware of the link between ovarian cancer and talcum powder, but viewed the potential health risk as insignificant and decided it wasn’t necessary to warn consumers of the potential danger.

The South Dakota jury ruled in Berg’s favor, finding that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn consumers about the link between feminine hygiene use of talcum powder and an increased risk of ovarian cancer. As a result of Berg’s successful talcum powder lawsuit, many women across the United States are hopeful that they too can receive the justice and compensation they deserve.

$72 Million Awarded in Baby Powder Cancer Lawsuit

In February 2016, a jury in St. Louis, Missouri awarded $72 million to the family of Jackie Fox, who died of ovarian cancer in 2014 after using baby powder as feminine hygiene product for decades. Of the total awarded, $62 million were punitive damages.

During the Fox trial, Roberta Ness served as an expert witness. Ness, who was formerly dean of the University of Texas School of Public Health and president of the American Epidemiological Society, argued that the data linking hormone therapy to breast cancer is statistically smaller than the data linking talcum powder to ovarian cancer. And while hormone therapy is now considered to be a serious risk, feminine hygiene use of talcum powder is still unrecognized as a health risk.

$55 Million Awarded in Baby Powder Cancer Lawsuit

In May 2016, another jury in St. Louis, Missouri awarded $55 million to Gloria Ristesund, who used Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder for over 35 years before she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011. The ruling was Johnson & Johnson’s second court loss related to talcum powder and ovarian cancer in less than three months.

According to the baby powder cancer lawsuit, internal Johnson & Johnson documents showed that the company knew of studies affirming the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, but continued to market the use of baby powder for feminine hygiene as safe.

$4.69 Billion Awarded to Multiple Plaintiffs in J&J Baby Powder Cancer Case

In July 2018, a jury in St. Louis, Missouri issued a landmark $4.69 billion verdict for the plaintiffs, who include 22 women and their families. The women allege their ovarian cancer was caused by J&J talcum powder products contaminated with asbestos. Discovery documents presented during the trial show that J&J knew for decades about the talcum powder asbestos contamination but fought to keep the information from going public.

Johnson & Johnson asked the judge who presided over the St. Louis case to toss the jury verdict. In an order, Judge Rex Burlison wrote that “substantial evidence was adduced at trial of particularly reprehensible conduct” by J&J, including evidence that the company “knew of the presence of asbestos in products that they knowingly targeted for sale to mothers and babies, knew of the damage their products caused, and misrepresented the safety of these products for decades.”

Baum Hedlund Filing Individual Baby Powder Lawsuits

Our personal injury attorneys understand that many of you have suffered devastating physical, emotional and financial losses due to your cancer diagnosis. In an effort to ensure that you receive the personal attention you deserve, our firm is exclusively filing individual baby powder lawsuits. We feel that this course of action will maximize compensation for our clients and send a clear message to baby powder manufacturers, like Johnson & Johnson, that failing to inform consumers about the dangers of these products will not be tolerated.

“In conclusion, our large pooled analysis of case-control studies shows a small-to-moderate (20-30 %) increased risk of ovarian cancer with genital-powder use, most clearly pertaining to non-mutinous epithelial ovarian tumors. More work is needed to understand how genital powders may exert a carcinogenic effect, and which constituents (e.g. talc) may be involved.”

– Genital Powder Use and Risk of Ovarian Cancer: A Pooled Analysis of 8,525 Cases and 9,859 Controls, 2013

How Do I File an Ovarian Cancer Talcum Powder Lawsuit?

Our firm is currently reviewing and accepting claims from women who developed ovarian cancer after using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and other talc products for feminine hygiene. We are also prepared to file wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of family members who have lost a wife or a mother to ovarian cancer stemming from talc powder use.

Baum Hedlund has successfully handled over 20,000 cases, securing over $4 billion in verdicts and settlements for our clients. With decades of experience handling personal injury and wrongful death cases, our firm has developed a reputation for holding Fortune 500 companies accountable, improving product safety, influencing public policy and raising public awareness on the dangers of consumer products.

Contact a Los Angeles talcum powder attorney at Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman. To learn more about filing a talcum powder lawsuit, give us a call at (855) 948-5098 today.

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