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Is Talcum Powder Linked to Ovarian Cancer?

  • We know many things that cause cancer, but recent court filings have brought to light a new carcinogen you may not be aware of -- baby powder.
    You wouldn't think it to be harmful, but there are now strong assertions of a link between talcum powder and cancer.
    Johnson & Johnson invented the product in 1892 after adding perfume to Italian talcum. It was marketed for use with sanitary napkins that mothers would use after childbirth. It increased in popularity to the point of being used in cosmetics and other sanitary products.
    There have been warnings about the use of the product in general. These warnings are mainly due to potential hazards from breathing the tiny particles.
    It can become even more dangerous when an infant has other health problems such as a respiratory infection, respiratory syncytial virus, or congenital heart disease. Even the packaging warns people not to breathe it.
    The first case filed over talcum-based powder was a small victory for the pharmaceutical industry. However, the ruling set a precedent that continues to have a ripple effect.
    Diane Berg was just 49 years old when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. That was in 2006, three years before she brought her lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson. Berg testified she had always used the product, sprinkling it in her underwear for a fresh smell.
    Berg filed suit against Johnson & Johnson and in 2013 they offered her a settlement in the amount of $1.3 million. She turned it down and took the case to trial. Unfortunately for Berg, she received no monetary compensation.
    If she did not receive any compensation, why was the case important? While Berg walked away without any money, the jury in the case confirmed a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer.
    According to the jury in the Berg case, there is a correlation between talcum powder and cancer. That jury heard testimony from doctors and experts in the field and came to the conclusion it is likely a cause of ovarian cancer. But what about expertise outside that case?
    As with any litigation against a pharmaceutical company, it is essential to know if it was aware of potential dangers and failed to notify those who used the product.
    In addition to research in the 1970s that found talc to contain asbestos, there have been numerous studies since that have shown a potential connection between talc and ovarian cancer. While many studies agreed more research was needed to be done, it was actually Johnson & Johnson who agreed to do more research.
    A study authored by Dr. Daniel W. Cramer that took place between 1978 and 1981 showed 40% of patients in the study with ovarian cancer had dusted their genital areas with talcum powder (or dusted it on sanitary napkins).
    "We agree more study is needed, and we are going to conduct appropriate new studies," said Johnson & Johnson public relations officer James Murray of the study. "We feel there is a vast amount of published research on talc in humans and animals that has shown no tendency of pure cosmetic-grade talc to cause cancer."
    So, Johnson & Johnson dismissed the Cramer study citing other studies it claims show no correlation between cosmetic-grade talc and cancer. However this does show they were aware of the possibility as far back as 1982.
    Knowledge by the company along with other studies on talc have been presented in court for baby powder lawsuit cases. It is up to the court to determine what a manufacturer knew and their duty (or lack thereof) to inform consumers.
    The term baby powder and talcum powder have become synonymous. However, the talcum makes them harmful. Some baby powders do not use talcum and instead use a substitute such as corn starch.
    The lawsuits over baby powder currently being litigated have focused on the use of talcum powder (or baby powder which contains talc). Talcum powder is an over-the-counter substance that does not require a prescription. It also does not require approval from the Food & Drug Administration, which means we rely on the manufacturer’s statements that the product is safe.
    There have been many recent baby powder lawsuit settlements in the tens of millions of dollars. In addition, there are thousands of these claims currently pending throughout the U.S.
    Johnson & Johnson has been forced to pay $72 million and $55 million in separate cases.
    Based on recent settlements and jury verdicts, there are several factors that have been spelled out for someone to qualify as a plaintiff in a baby powder lawsuit. Keep in mind these are simply guidelines based on recent verdicts. Meeting all of the requirements gives you a better chance of joining a class action, but it's recommended you seek a consultation if you feel you were harmed despite not meeting the criteria.
    In all, there are six factors to file a Johnson & Johnson talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit. These are:
    The cancer must be an ovarian-type cancer.
    The use of talcum powder (baby powder) must have been a daily habit with the minimum of five years use.
    The woman must have used Johnson & Johnson baby powder (talcum powder).
    The woman must have dusted her genital area with the talcum powder.
    There must be positive biopsy showing evidence of talcum powder.
    The woman must not have a genetic disorder pre-disposing her to ovarian cancer, like the BRCA 1 gene or BRCA 2 gene.
    If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and you believe it could have been caused by baby powder, contact us for a free consultation. We will listen to your story and answer your questions. If you have a claim, we will start immediately.