The ongoing talcum powder litigation involving Johnson & Johnson has captured national attention. With more and more people learning about the issues raised in the litigation, questions are sure to arise.
As a preeminent plaintiffs’ law firm, we want to help you better understand the issues at stake in the litigation by answering the following talcum powder FAQ. On this page, you’ll learn more about talcum powder uses, how talcum powder is made, and how feminine hygiene use of talcum powder can affect your health.
What is Talcum Powder?
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.
How is Talcum Powder Made?
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.
What is Talcum Powder Used For?
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.
Who Makes Talcum Powder Products?
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.
How Does Talcum Powder Cause Cancer?
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.
What are the Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?
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
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
Other symptoms of ovarian cancer include:
- Weight loss
- Back pain
- Pain during sex
- Menstrual changes
- Vaginal bleeding after menopause
Can I File a Talcum Powder Lawsuit?
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.
What Damages Have Been Awarded to Plaintiffs in Lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson?
Four cases against J&J have returned verdicts totaling a combined $302 million, which is mostly punitive damages.
May 4, 2017 – St. Louis jury ruled against J&J, awarding $110.5 million to Lois Slemp, a Virginia woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012.
October 27, 2016 – Jury awarded $70 million to California woman. This talcum powder lawsuit marked the first time a jury ruled against Imerys, Johnson & Johnson’s talc supplier.
May 2, 2016 – Jury ordered J&J to pay $55 million to a South Dakota woman alleging prolonged feminine hygiene use of talcum powder caused her to develop ovarian cancer. The plaintiff, Gloria Ritesund, said she used J&J baby powder products for feminine hygiene for decades.
February 22, 2016 – Jury awarded $72 million to the family of an Alabama woman who died of ovarian cancer, finding that J&J failed to warn consumers about the link between feminine use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer.