Ovarian Cancer and Mesothelioma—Talcum Powder Cancer Lawsuits

September 17, 2022 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Talcum powder is a common hygiene product. However, the average consumer may not know that talcum powder is a known carcinogen and is a proven cause of ovarian cancer in women. Talcum powder cancer lawsuits and baby powder cancer lawsuits claim that manufacturers knew that their talc was contaminated with asbestos and failed to warn its users of the increased risk of ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, especially in women who use these products for personal hygiene. Recent studies have shown the connection between talcum powder, otherwise known as baby powder, and its link to ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. Talcum powder, made from the mineral talc, is often used as a method of expelling vaginal odors and can be bought over the counter at most convenience stores and pharmacies. Talcum powder has recently been discovered to be a factor in the formation of ovarian cancer cells. Our attorneys are on the front line of talcum powder litigation. Contact our experienced product liability and mesothelioma lawyers at the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today to learn more about your legal options.

Johnson & Johnson to Stop Selling Talc Baby Powder in the United States and Canada

Johnson's Baby Powder has become one of the most iconic brands in the world since it was first introduced in 1893. Similarly, Shower to Shower (sold to Valeant Pharmaceuticals in 2012 by Johnson & Johnson) has been sold for nearly 50 years, becoming a household brand. These products are used to fight moisture, irritation, and odor, and to maintain freshness in babies, children and adults. These products contain talc as an active ingredient. More commonly known as talcum powder, this mineral has been linked to ovarian cancer in women who used the powder on or near the pelvic area.

Johnson & Johnson Discontinues Talc-Based Baby Powder Sales

As the Coronavirus pandemic has been front and center, occupying consumers, it appears that J&J has quietly made the decision to withdraw their controversial talc-based Johnson's Baby Powder from the market. Sold continuously since 1893, J&J will finally stop selling talc-based baby powder in the United States and Canada, a product that it is most identified with and has been selling for more than 100 years. In mid-May, the company announced that in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it had re-evaluated their portfolio of products and has stopped shipping hundreds of items, including Johnson's Baby Powder in the U.S. and Canada in order to place a higher priority on its high demand products and to allow for social distancing at its manufacturing and distribution facilities. They will continue to sell these products in other markets around the world, and stores in North America can continue selling its existing inventory until it runs out. “Demand for talc-based Johnson's Baby Powder in North America has been declining due in large part to changes in consumer habits and fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising,” Johnson & Johnson said. More than 19,000 Johnson and Johnson cancer lawsuits are from consumers and their survivors who claim their talc-based products caused cancer due to the contamination of a known carcinogen—asbestos. According to an investigative report by Reuters in 2018, it has been alleged that J&J knew for decades that there was asbestos in their talc powder. Despite recommendations from researchers that a warning should be issued, the company moved forward without it and continued to market these products to women without any warning label. A handful of other talcum powder companies have since put warning labels on their products, but J&J argued such a label would be confusing because it stood by its product. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA is currently evaluating claims and seeking compensation on behalf of women who have had an ovarian cancer or mesothelioma diagnosis after having significant exposure to talcum powder.

What Is Talcum or Talc?

Talcum is the common term for talc, which is one of the softest natural minerals on earth. Talc is a clay mineral composed of magnesium silicate and oxygen and is mined primarily in France, Western Australia and the Western United States. It has been used for thousands of years, but its use only became widespread in the U.S. in the late 1800s. Talc rock is ground into powder for use in a variety of consumer products including drywall, rubber, plastic, food, crayons, ceramics, chalk, lubricants and it is widely used in cosmetic products such as baby powder and facial and body powders to improve absorption and texture. The most common use for talc is as the active ingredient in baby powder which is often used to absorb moisture, combat odor, and to reduce friction/chafing.

Talc Powder Asbestos

Because talc is a natural mineral, it often contains traces of other minerals such as the known carcinogen - asbestos. Inhaling, ingesting or somehow accidentally taking in fibers of asbestos can lead to cancer in some people. Asbestos use in the U.S has dramatically decreased since the mid-1970s. In 1976, the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrances Association (CTFA), (known as the Personal Care Products Council since 2007) issued voluntary guidelines stating that all talc used in cosmetic products in the U.S. should be free from detectable amounts of asbestos according to their standards. Despite these guidelines, studies since the 1970s have found that talcum powder is still often contaminated with asbestos.

Ovarian Cancer

A Harvard University study led by Dr. Margaret A. Gates and funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health explored the data from two previous studies—the New England Case Control Study and the Nurse's Health Study. The findings of the study showed a 36 to 41 percent increase in the risk of ovarian cancer in women who use talcum powder near their genitals. The study also found that women with the GSTM1 gene, but not the GSTT1 gene, are three times as likely to develop tumors due to exposure to talc. Women who only lacked the GSTT1 gene also had a higher risk. Previous tests have shown that cancer cells, when exposed to talcum, tend to multiply and spread faster than normal. It is also worth mentioning that a study completed in 1996 examined ovaries that were removed from women for reasons other than ovarian cancer. It found evidence of talcum powder in every single ovary studied. Ovarian cancer is a rare type of cancer that begins in the female reproductive glands known as the ovaries or in related areas of the fallopian tubes and the peritoneum. Women have two ovaries that are located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus. These ovaries are responsible for producing eggs, as well as the female hormones estrogen and progesterone that regulate bodily functions. Women have two fallopian tubes that are a pair of long, slender tubes on each side of the uterus. The peritoneum is the tissue lining that covers organs in the abdomen. Ovarian cancer is rare, accounting for only 3 percent of female cancer cases each year, however it is the leading cause of death among cancers of the reproductive system. Approximately 20,000 women in the U.S are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year, and over 14,000 die, according to the CDC. Although the overall risk of developing ovarian cancer is low, it is one of the deadliest gynecological cancers. For early detection and diagnosis of ovarian cancer, it is important to recognize some of the major signs and symptoms. These can include:
  • Pain or pressure in the pelvic area
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Abnormal menstrual periods
  • Gas, nausea, or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite, feeling full too quickly or difficulty eating
  • More frequent or urgent need to urinate and/or constipation
  • Back pain that gets worse
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Vaginal bleeding or abnormal discharge
  • Bloating
Diagnosing ovarian cancer typically involves a physical exam, a pelvic exam, lab tests, ultrasound or a biopsy. It is always important to discuss any questions or concerns that you may have with your doctor.

What Types of Cancer Does Talcum Powder Cause?

While direct links between talcum powder and ovarian cancer have been found, research has also found evidence that links talcum powder with lung cancer and mesothelioma cases. Mesothelioma from talc powder occurs primarily in talc miners. At this time there are no known links of other cancers from talc powder, but it has been speculated to also cause cervical cancer and uterine cancer.

Ovarian Cancer From Baby Powder

Numerous studies have linked talc, or talcum powder with an increased risk of ovarian cancer when used long-term in feminine hygiene products. When it's used on undergarments, sanitary napkins and other items, talc particles with asbestos contamination can travel up through the vagina, uterus and fallopian tubes to the ovaries, where they can cause cancerous changes. A 2016 study published in the journal Epidemiology, analyzed case-control data that was collected over 16 years on the use of talcum powder in over 4,000 women—2,000 with and 2,000 without ovarian cancer. The authors found that use of talcum powder in the genital region and on sanitary napkins, tampons and underwear may increase a woman's risk for ovarian cancer by 33 percent, especially when the powder was used daily. Most women in the study reported using either Johnson's Baby Powder or Shower to Shower. A recent study reported at the 2019 Annual meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology found specific gene mutations in cancer cells of tumors that were triggered by talc particles. This supports the theory that talc may trigger ovarian cancer because it was already suspected that ovarian cancer begins in the fallopian tubes.

Ovarian Cancer Victims & Justice

Many women have incorporated talcum powder into their daily lives from birth through adulthood. As we now know, this type of frequent use can put women at a higher risk for ovarian cancer. The talcum powder industry - companies like J&J, knew about the risks and continued to refuse to put a warning on their product. Records show that J&J may have known of the risks of ovarian cancer from its products for over 30 years, but did not warn their consumers. In recent years, women who developed ovarian cancer after decades of using baby powder products have been suing the companies responsible, most notably Johnson & Johnson. Amid reports that J&J knew of the potential dangers of their talc-based products, but hid them and failed to warn the public, the company has and is facing thousands of lawsuits from cancer victims and their family members. So far, more than 19,000 past users of Johnson's Baby Powder or Shower to Shower have come forward to file ovarian cancer lawsuits against Johnson and Johnson. Unfortunately, experts believe many more have yet to be diagnosed with talc powder cancers or have not yet contacted a lawyer. So, what can you do if you feel as though you or someone you know may have been affected by the use of talcum powder? Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA is currently seeking women who have developed ovarian cancer after using Johnson's Baby Powder or Shower to Shower. If you or a loved one have developed ovarian cancer and have used talcum powder frequently throughout the years in your day to day life, you should not delay in contacting an experienced product liability and mesothelioma lawyer at the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA. Our mass tort attorneys are on the front line of talcum powder litigation. We work with the best doctors in the field, and can make sure you are properly evaluated. If the situation proves necessary, we have the resources and attorneys that will take your case to trial and get results. We do not collect payment unless we make a recovery on your behalf. The Dolman Law Group works with local counsel in any jurisdiction outside Florida for the purpose of filing lawsuits in jurisdictions wherein we are not licensed.  Thus, we will follow each State's ethical rules to ensure a local attorney is involved. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 (833) 700-MESO [6376]


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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