As many as 2,200 cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed each year may have been caused by regular use of talcum powder. Talc is a mineral made of up various elements including magnesium, silicon and oxygen. Talc is ground to make talcum powder which is used to absorb moisture and is widely available in various products including baby powder and adult products including body and facial powder. Talc products used regularly in the genital area could increase the risk of ovarian cancer if the powder were to travel through the vagina, uterus and fallopian tubes to the ovaries. A jury recently found consumer health care products manufacturer Johnson & Johnson knew of the cancer risks associated with its talc products but failed to warn consumers.
According to a recent study published by the Cancer Prevention Research journal, the use of talcum powder-based products on a woman's genitals increases the risk of developing ovarian cancer in a woman's lifetime. This is because the particles that make up talcum powder are extremely fine. When directly applied to a woman's genital area on a habitual basis, the particles may travel into the vagina, through the fallopian tubes and settle in the ovaries. The ovaries may then become hindered by the presence of talcum powder particles, resulting in an irritation that allows cancer cells to form, grow and spread.
Ovarian cancer is one of the most deadly forms of cancer. This is largely due to the fact that symptoms are often vague and diagnosis is missed until the cancer has progressed to an advanced stage and/or spread into other areas of the body such as the abdomen and pelvic region.
Ovarian cancer symptoms may include bloating, abdominal pain, changes in bladder and bowel movements and overall fatigue. Ovarian cancer may take several opinions before being correctly diagnosed.
An estimated 20,000 women are diagnosed each year with ovarian cancer, and more than 14,000 die. The disease strikes about one in 70 women, though studies show that women who use talc-containing products on their genitals have a one in 50 chance of developing the disease. An expert at trial testified at least 45,000 women have died as a result of ovarian cancer that could be attributed to talcum powder use on the genitals, and estimated 1,500 women will die within the next year as a result of talc use.
Talcum Powder Lawsuits
Ristesund v Johnson & Johnson
On May 2, a jury in the City of St. Louis Circuit Court awarded Plaintiff Gloria Ristesund $55 million in her lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson alleging her ovarian cancer was caused by the company's talcum powder products. Ms. Ristesund used Johnson's Baby Powder for more than 40 years for feminine hygiene. The jury's award included $5 million for actual damages and an additional $50 million in punitive damages. This was
the third trial in which Johnson & Johnson was found liable for ovarian cancer linked to its talc-containing products, and the second trial to award damages to the Plaintiff.
Fox v Johnson & Johnson
On Feb. 22, 2016, a jury in City of St. Louis, Mo., Circuit Court found Johnson & Johnson liable for the development of Plaintiff Jacqueline Fox's ovarian cancer and awarded her family a verdict of $72 million. Ms. Fox passed away from ovarian cancer in October 2015. She used talc-containing products for 35 years. The verdict includes $10 million in actual damages and $62 million in punitive damages.