Talcum Powder Lawsuit


Medical professionals have known for years that talcum powder, or baby powder, may increase one’s risk of developing ovarian cancer. 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.

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.

Billions of dollars in damages have been awarded to victims in multiple talc cases against J&J (those 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.

The law firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman represents women in baby powder cancer cases across the country. If you used Johnson & Johnson baby powder for feminine hygiene and were diagnosed with ovarian cancer, it is in your best interest to speak with a baby powder attorney immediately to discuss your claim.

Talcum Powder Lawsuit Updates

Nicole K. H. Maldonado, Legal advocate for families

Baum Hedlund is offering free no-obligation baby powder cancer case consultations for those interested in pursuing a talcum powder lawsuit. We are here to help you better understand your rights and can answer any questions you may have related to your claim. Please fill out the form below or contact us directly by calling toll free  800-827-0087.

More than 20 epidemiologic studies support an association between talc powder use in the genital area and ovarian cancer…”

Talc Use and Ovarian Cancer: Influence of Histologic Type and Menopausal Status on Strength and Dose-Response of the Association

Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer

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 baby powder link.

Below are some of the major baby 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 talcin the ovaryshould 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.

ovarian cancer talcum powder lawsuit

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.

2003 – Anticancer 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.

Nevertheless, given the poor prognosis for ovarian cancer, any potentially harmful exposures should be avoided, particularly those with limited benefits. For this reason, we discourage the use of talc in genital hygiene, particularly as a daily habit.

  – Perineal Exposure to Talc and Ovarian Cancer Risk, 1992

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 and caused their ovarian cancer.

When talc is ground to make baby powder, the mineral absorbs moisture and reduces friction. These properties make talc a widely used ingredient in personal hygiene products and cosmetic products, as well as many other consumer goods.

The problem is this: if 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.

Baby Powder Cancer

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.

Time and time again, Johnson & Johnson has referred to the volume of studies finding a link between baby powder and ovarian cancer as inconclusive. 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.

 “…perineal use of talc-based body powder is possibly carcinogenic to humans.

– International Agency for Research on Cancer

Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Lawsuit

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.

As of May 2016, at least one state attorney general’s office is investigating Johnson & Johnson’s sales and marketing practices related to its talcum powder products for feminine hygiene. The company is also facing upwards of 1,000 claims filed by women across the country who believe their ovarian cancer was caused by feminine hygiene use of Johnson & Johnson baby powder.

 “Also, we dont believe that talc needs to reach the ovaries to affect ovarian cancer risk; rather, the harmful effects of talc may involve inflammatory reactions in the lower genital tract, including the upper vagina, cervix, and endometrium.

Presence of Talc in Pelvic Lymph Nodes of a Woman With Ovarian Cancer and Long-Term Genital Exposure to Cosmetic Talc, 2007

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

In July of 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.”

$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 of 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 & Johnsons 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.

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Baby Powder Class Action Lawsuit

In May of 2014, Johnson & Johnson was hit with a baby powder class action lawsuit. Filed on behalf of Missouri residents who purchased Johnson & Johnson baby powder within the last five years, the plaintiffs claim that the company failed to warn consumers about the increased risk of developing ovarian cancer when women use baby powder daily for feminine hygiene.

In April of 2014, a California woman who used Johnson & Johnson baby powder regularly for feminine hygiene over a period of decades, filed a class action in California. She claims that baby powder used on the genitals can cause ovarian cancer. The complaint cites the studies listed above, linking the use of talcum powder to an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

talcum ovarian cancer

About Class Actions

When a number of people claim to have suffered minor injuries as a result of purchasing a defective product, it is advantageous to join a class action lawsuit because it can be difficult and/or impractical for each person to file an individual lawsuit against the product manufacturer. In a class action lawsuit, the plaintiff attorneys select one of the claimants to serve as the “class representative” and use this claimant’s case to argue for compensation on behalf of the rest of the class.

Class action lawsuits are more about efficiency for those with similar claims—they are not necessarily designed to maximize compensation for individuals that have suffered serious injuries, such as cancer diagnoses.

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?

Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman is currently reviewing and accepting claims from women who developed ovarian cancer after using Johnson & Johnson 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. To find out if you are eligible for a talcum powder lawsuit, follow these three easy steps:

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney at Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman – To learn more about filing a talcum powder lawsuit, give us a call at 800-827-0087 or fill out the case review form on this page.

A Baum Hedlund Attorney Will Review Your Case for Free During your free consultation, our attorneys will review the circumstances that led to your diagnosis and determine if you are eligible to seek compensation by filing a talcum powder lawsuit. During this time, please feel free to ask any questions you may have about the process of filing a talcum powder lawsuit. Remember, we are here to help you better understand your rights in this matter.

Talk to Your Family and Decide If Filing a Talcum Powder Lawsuit Is the Right Decision for You and Your Family – Even after our personal injury attorneys agree to represent you in a talcum powder lawsuit, the choice of whether or not to pursue a claim is yours to make. You are under no obligation to file a claim after we review your case.

Why Baum Hedlund is the Right Law Firm to File Your Talcum Powder Lawsuit

Baum Hedlund has successfully handled over 8,000 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.

*Past results are not a guarantee of future outcomes.

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