Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Ovarian Cancer Claims
After more than a century of household use, it’s difficult to imagine that an everyday product like Baby Powder could pose potentially severe health risks, but recent lawsuits unearthed a link between the commonly used powder and ovarian cancer. Despite the release of these initial findings 45 years ago, the product’s manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, chose to forego notifying consumers of the potential risk. Many lawsuits are now holding the company liable for its decision.
The prominent ingredient in many baby or body powders is talc, or talcum powder. Talcum powder is a mined soft mineral that is frequently used in cosmetic and household products such as blush, eye shadow, ceramics and contraceptive devices. Despite the name, Baby Powder’s ability to absorb odor and moisture renders it very popular amongst adults. In fact, Baby Powder campaigns even encouraged use among adult markets; advertisements that targeted adult use date back to the early 1900s.
The regular and encouraged use of talcum powder by adult women may be more harmful than previously determined. While this popular powder is largely considered safe for external use amongst the general public, some studies suggest that regular use of the powder on or around the genital region may be linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer in women. Ovarian cancer is one of the most deadly cancers and is often diagnosed long after it has spread due to a lack of regular screenings and easily dismissible symptoms.
British researchers published a study in 1971 that introduced the possibility of talcum powder’s link to ovarian cancer. The study found “deeply embedded” talc particles within 10 of the 13 ovarian tumors studied. 11 years after the original study was published, an epidemiologist, Daniel Cramer, published an article that supported the British study’s findings with statistical links. Since then, multiple journals published related articles expanding and solidifying the theory. Some conflicting research on the topic does exist, but the majority of studies indicate an increased risk.
Despite these findings, the Baby Powder manufacturer decided to not warn customers of the potential link between its use in the genital region and ovarian cancer because it doesn’t believe the studies are strong enough to prove a correlation between the two. Additionally, the 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which grants the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (the FDA) the power to control safety standards of food, drugs and cosmetics, lacks the authority to control Baby Powder standards because it is considered a cosmetic. Currently, very little of the Act addresses cosmetic standards. Congress is presently contemplating a change to the current law, which would give the FDA more control over product regulation.
While evidence of the link between the powder and cancer is still contested by some, recent lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson made it clear that any ambiguity surrounding the findings on the topic don’t dismiss a company’s responsibility to warn its customers of the association and potential harm. Since talcum powder related cases began to arise against Johnson & Johnson, courts held the company liable for negligence, conspiracy and the failure to warn women of the potential risk of using Baby Powder in the genital region, amongst other claims.
If you or a family member has suffered with ovarian cancer please contact our office today for a free consultation of your rights.