Talc/Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer

Did you or a loved one use Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder or Shower to Shower talcum powder daily for personal hygiene for four or more years and develop BRCA Negative ovarian cancer (fallopian, serous, serous invasive)? Were you or a loved one diagnosed by age 65? If so, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries.

What is Talc (Talcum Powder)?

Talc is a naturally-occurring mineral made of hydrated magnesium silicate. Talcum powder is the result of heavy refinement of raw talc and is a white, fibrous powder. The powder aids in reducing friction, absorbing moisture and unpleasant smells. Talcum powder is considered safe for most applications; however, when used for feminine hygiene, it has the potential to cause serious, even life-threatening problems.

Due to these properties, companies such as Johnson & Johnson (Johnson’s Baby Powder), Valeant Pharmaceuticals (Shower to Shower) and others have used it as the main ingredient in personal hygiene products, as well as baby powder. It’s also used in several other products, but cosmetically, it’s most commonly sprinkled directly on the skin, in underwear, shoes, when changing baby diapers and on sanitary pads.

Talcum powder can also be found in diaphragms and condoms for its friction-reducing ability.

The main talc-based powders that have become the focus of legal actions are Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. Plaintiffs in these actions allege that talcum powder is the cause of their ovarian cancer.

What is the Problem with Talc/Talcum Powder?

As mentioned above, there is a possible link between talcum powder use for feminine hygiene and the development of ovarian cancer. In fact, this potential link has been known for decades, but the manufacturers of these products chose to keep this information from the public.

Experts have said that when talcum powder is used for feminine hygiene, it can enter the body through the vagina, working its way through the uterus and fallopian tubes to reach the ovaries. Once there, it becomes embedded in the mucous membrane causing inflammation that can eventually lead to ovarian cancer. Research has supported this theory of how talc particles end up in the ovaries. Some experts even say that talcum powder could also increase the risk of ovarian cancer by suppressing certain antibodies that usually protect against cancer.

Studies also support the potential link between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer risk. In fact, a 1971 study of women with ovarian cancer found talc particles embedded in 75% of all the ovarian tumors the researchers examined. It is believed that as many as 10,000 cases of ovarian cancer per year are talc-related. The Journal of Gynecological Cancer published a study showing that frequent application of talcum powder to a woman’s genital area could increase her risk of developing ovarian cancer by as much as 30% to 60%.

Cancer Prevention Research, a medical journal, published a study in June 2013. This study showed that the risk of developing ovarian cancer was 20% to 30% greater in women who used talcum powder for feminine hygiene over long periods of time than that of the controls, or women who were part of the study but did not use talcum powder.

It has long been accepted that talcum powder can cause respiratory problems, particularly in babies. When the powder becomes airborne through normal use, it can be inhaled. When this happens the following has been shown to occur as well:

  • Fast and shallow breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Acute or chronic lung irritation
  • Pneumonia and asthma symptoms with long-term exposure

This makes perfect sense when talc is examined as a mineral. Before the 1970s, certain talc-based products also contained asbestos. All talc-based products have been free of asbestos since then, however. The reason for mentioning asbestos is that researchers have found that talc is very similar in chemical structure to asbestos. Both are naturally occurring silicate minerals with a crystalline structure.

The main difference between the two is that research has confirmed that asbestos inhalation causes the type of irritation and inflammation that often leads to cancer. Some recent studies actually suggest that this similarity in structure may even give talc the ability to cause mesothelioma, the cancer most often caused by asbestos.

Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer Lawsuits

Numerous lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson and other talcum powder manufacturers alleging that the companies knew of the dangers for over 40 years. Despite this alleged knowledge, the companies chose to put profits over people and hid the risks. It should be noted that not only talcum powder as a feminine hygiene product, but also that which appears on condoms or sanitary pads could potentially cause ovarian cancer, too.

Some of these suits have resulted in jury verdicts against the manufacturers:

  • October 2013 – A jury in South Dakota finds in favor of a 56-year-old woman who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006 after years of using Shower to Shower powder. Three different doctors, using electron microscopy, examined her tumors and found talc in each one. These experts concluded that the talc in the powder caused the woman’s ovarian cancer. One expert even estimated (as mentioned earlier) that at least 10,000 cases of ovarian cancer per year may be talc-related.
  • February 2016 – Another jury found in favor of the family of a woman who lost her life to ovarian cancer that they determined was caused by her long-term talcum powder use.
  • May 2016 – Yet another jury verdict for the plaintiff, a woman with ovarian cancer who used talcum powder for decades.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) issued an order on October 4, 2016 that consolidated several of the remaining lawsuits into a multi-district litigation (MDL). The purpose of the MDL is to handle all of the pre-trial proceedings (discovery, etc.) at one time, thus saving the parties time and money and avoiding the risk of contradictory pre-trial decisions. The MDL is being handled in the District of New Jersey, Judge Freda L. Wolfson presiding.

Don’t Wait! The Time is now to Seek Legal Assistance!

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with BRCA Negative ovarian cancer (fallopian, serous, serous invasive) by age 65, after four or more years of using talcum powder as a feminine hygiene product, now is the time to seek legal assistance. The Statute of Limitations, the time period during which you can file a lawsuit, may already be running. If you wait too long, you will be forever barred from seeking the justice you deserve. Contact the experienced attorneys at Justinian and Associates now for a free case consultation. We are experienced in dealing with dangerous drug lawsuits and MDLs and we will fight for you.