Conventional wisdom regarding talc powder is that it’s marketed as baby powder so it must be safe. However, recent lawsuits have alleged that long-term genital talc use is linked with ovarian cancer. The link between talc powder and ovarian cancer dates back to the 1970s when researchers discovered talc particles embedded in ovarian and cervical tumors. In 2006, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, classified talcum powder, when used around female genitalia, as a possible human carcinogen. Notwithstanding such classification and warnings from talc suppliers, Johnson & Johnson has not added a warning label to its baby powder indicating that chronic application of talcum powder to female genital areas can potentially lead to ovarian cancer.
What is talcum powder? Talcum powder is made from talc. Talc is a clay, metamorphic mineral containing the flowing elements: magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. Talc is effective at absorbing moisture and, as such, is effective at keeping skin dry and preventing rashes. Talc and Asbestos, a well-known human carcinogen, have similar chemical make-ups and deposits of Talc and Asbestos can be found in close proximity of one another. According to the American Cancer Society, talcum products used in American homes have been free of asbestos since the 1970s. Over the decades, many women have been exposed to talcum powder and talc-containing products by direct talcum powder application, or more indirectly, by exposure to products sprinkled with talcum powder such as diaphragms or condoms.
While some studies have suggested that there may be an increased risk for lung cancer in individuals engaged in talc mining or milling, studies have not demonstrated a risk of lung cancer from exposure to talcum powder. While research regarding talcum powder exposure and cancer continues, it appears that for now, ovarian cancer and, possibly cervical cancer, have a greater likelihood of being connected to chronic talcum powder use than other cancers.
Talcum powder litigation is an emerging area of law. In February 2016, a Missouri jury awarded $72 million to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer. The lawsuit alleged Johnson & Johnson disregarded a possible link between its talcum powder and cancer. The jury found that Johnson & Johnson was liable for failure to warn, negligence, and conspiracy. In May 2016, another Missouri jury awarded an ovarian cancer survivor $55 million in a lawsuit alleging talcum powder caused her development of ovarian cancer.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer or cervical cancer following years of talcum powder exposure, then call our family of West Virginia personal injury attorneys and tell us your story. We ensure that our clients, whether in WV or other states, understand their rights and provide aggressive, compassionate representation to ensure they are fully compensated under the law.