Talcum powder is derived from talc, which is a hydrated magnesium silicate. While it is most commonly known as Baby Powder, used to prevent or treat rashes, many women also talc powder for personal hygiene and cosmetics. Talc is a mineral comprised mostly of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. Talcum powder is frequently added to cosmetic and personal products due to its ability to absorb excess moisture.
THE HISTORY OF DANGERS WITH TALC
Over the past four decades, scientific evidence has been building about the carcinogenic properties of talc, an ingredient in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed by women and their families claiming talc was responsible for their ovarian cancer, and that Johnson & Johnson and its supplier, Imerys Talc America Inc., were aware of these dangers, yet failed to warn consumers about the risk. Since introducing the product over 120 years ago, Johnson & Johnson has worked aggressively to expand the market for baby powder, promoting it for numerous uses among infants, children and adults. Although the company continues to insist that the product is “safe” and that evidence for its carcinogenicity is “inconclusive,” juries are continuing to award multi-million dollar judgments to women who have suffered ovarian cancer by having used baby powder for decades.
OVARIAN CANCER + TALC
Ovarian cancer is one of the rarest cancers, but it is also one of the deadliest. About 22,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the United States every year, and it causes 14,000 deaths. The problem is that symptoms are usually mild, which often delays diagnosis and treatment until the cancer has already spread to the pelvis or abdomen. According to The American Cancer Society, women should be aware of the following persistent symptoms for ovarian cancer:
- PELVIC OR ABDOMINAL PAIN
- DIFFICULTY EATING
- ACTIVE BLADDER
- UPSET STOMACH
- BACK PAIN
- PAINFUL INTERCOURSE
- MENSTRUAL CHANGES
- ABDOMINAL SWELLING & WEIGHT LOSS
TYPES OF OVARIAN CANCER
- EPITHELIAL OVARIAN CANCER: Epithelial cells cover the outer layer of the ovaries. The majority of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer (85 to 90%) have epithelial cell tumors. These tumors may spread to the lining and organs surrounding the pelvis and abdomen. When this occurs, it may result in fluid build-up in the abdomen.
- GERM CELL TUMORS: Germ cells produce eggs. These tumors make up less than 2% of ovarian cancer diagnoses. This type of ovarian cancer typically has high survival rates: More than nine out of ten women will survive longer than five years after diagnosis.
- STOMAL CELL TUMORS: Stromal cells produce hormones (estrogen and progesterone) and the tissue cells that hold the ovaries together. Stromal tumors only make up 1% of all ovarian cancer diagnoses—over half of which affect women over the age of 50. Because these cells produce hormones, the most common symptom of a tumor is abnormal vaginal bleeding, especially after menopause or before puberty.
PRODUCTS CONTAINING TALCUM POWDER
Talcum powder is used in tens of thousands of consumer products, cosmetics, surgical gloves, foods, contraceptives, antacids, medications, flea and tick powders, deodorants, chalk, crayons, soap, paint, ceramics, paper, insulating materials, asphalt filler, textiles, and more. Lawsuits have been filed by individuals who developed Mesothelioma or Ovarian Cancer after using the following products:
- JOHNSON’S BABY POWDER
- SHOWER-TO-SHOWER (JOHNSON & JOHNSON)
- CASHMERE BOUQUET (COLGATE-PALMOLIVE)
- CLUBMAN PINAUD TALC
- McKESSON BABY POWDER
- GOLD BOND MEDICATED POWDER
- NIVEA PURE TALC
STUDIES LINKING BABY POWDER & CANCER
In the 1970s, researchers found particles of talc inside the ovaries of women with ovarian cancer. Since then, evidence of the risk has continued to grow. Talc is considered a “possible human carcinogen” by the World Health Organization, based on studies such as the following:
- ANTICANCER RESEARCH (2003): Meta-analysis of 16 studies found a 33% increased risk of ovarian cancer from perineal talcum powder use, but no causal relationship.
- CANCER EPIDEMIOLOGY (2008): Harvard researchers compared 1,400 women with ovarian cancer to 1,800 health women and linked the use of talcum powder with a 36% increased risk of ovarian cancer.
- CANCER PREVENTION RESEARCH (2013): Use of talcum powder in the genital area associated with a 20-30% increased risk of ovarian cancer.
RECENT TALCUM POWDER SETTLEMENTS
- In August 2017, Eva Echeverria received a $417 million jury verdict. She was dying from stage 4 ovarian cancer, after having used baby powder on a daily basis from the 1950s through 2016. The verdict included $68 million in compensatory damages and $340 million in punitive damages.
- In May 2017, a St. Louis jury awarded $110 million to Louis Slemp who was being treated for aggressive ovarian cancer that had metastasized to her liver. She had used baby powder for more than 40 years.
- In November 2016, a California jury returned a verdict of $70 million for Deborah Giannecchini. She was undergoing radiation and chemotherapy for ovarian cancer, and had used talcum powder for more than 40 years. Sixty-five million dollars of the verdict was for punitive damages.
- In May 2016, a jury found in favor of Gloria Ristesund, who was being treated for ovarian cancer. She had used Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder for decades. The amount awarded was $55 million.
- In February 2016, a jury determined that Johnson & Johnson was responsible for the death of Jacqueline Fox, who had been using talcum powder for personal hygiene for more than 35 years. The total awardwas $72 million, including $62 million in punitive damages.
DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT INJURIES RELATED TO TALCUM POWDER?
If you or a loved one developed ovarian cancer and used talcum powder, we encourage you to consult with our team as soon as possible. With our extensive knowledge and expertise, you can rest assured that should you choose to work with us, you will have legal representation that you can trust. All initial consultations are free, and we don’t charge any up-front fees for representation. We handle all fees on a contingency basis, meaning that unless we’re successful, you don’t have to pay us. Please contact Fulmer Sill at (405)510.0077 for a free consultation.