For decades, there have been concerns about the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer when it is applied near the female genitals. While some have described this as a “myth”, a St. Louis jury sent a resounding message this week to Johnson & Johnson, awarding $72 million after concluding that the risk is real and that the manufacturer actively withheld information from women throughout the United States.
The lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. represent families nationwide who are pursuing similar Baby Powder lawsuits and Shower-to-Shower powder lawsuits following an ovarian cancer diagnosis, pursuing financial compensation as a result of Johnson & Johnson’s decision to place their desire for profits before the safety of women.
We applaud this St. Louis jury, who considered all of the evidence in the case and clearly rejected the argument that the talcum powder ovarian cancer risk is a myth.
The verdict highlights the strength of the evidence involved in these cases, and that warnings should have been provided about talcum powder ovarian cancer risk. When applied to the female genitals or placed in the underwear, the powder may migrate through the vagina and into the fallopian tubes, uterus and ovaries, with many cases involving evidence of talc in the ovarian tumors
History of the “Myth”
As early as 1961, researchers found carbon particles similar to talc can translocate from the exterior of a woman’s genitals to her ovaries.
A decade later, in 1971, researchers found particles of talc deeply embedded in ovarian and cervical tumors of women diagnosed with cancer. Indicating that this was no fluke, the same researchers found there was much less of a chance of those particles being found in women without cancer.
Diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer Following Talcum Powder Use?
By 1982, Harvard researchers discovered that genital talc use increased the risk of ovarian cancer by 92%. This was followed by numerous other studies that reached similar findings.
Despite these decades-old findings, many talcum powder product manufacturers have dismissed the cancer risk, allowing most women to believe that it was a “myth” that talcum powder causes ovarian cancer. They claimed that the talcum powder research was inconclusive, and refused to even provide warnings on the products about studies that suggested there was a risk.
In 2011, a study by Harvard researchers involving 4,000 women found a dose-response relationship between the use of talc on women’s genitals and ovarian cancer. In that study, researchers found a 200% to 300% increased risk of cancer from perineum talc use and even explained why previous studies had failed to detect the association as strongly in the past.
J&J Knew Ovarian Cancer Was Real Risk
This recent talcum powder trial in St. Louis allowed the jury to see internal memos and documents from Johnson & Johnson, which were unavailable to women purchasing their products. These documents provide further evidence that the company knew it had a problem with talcum powder and turned a blind eye.
In a 1997 letter (published by fairwarning.org), a toxicologist consultant warned a Johnson & Johnson executive that it was foolish to attempt to characterize the scientific evidence as being insufficient in showing a link between ovarian cancer and talc, following a 1994 workshop.
“At that time there had been about 9 studies (more by now) published in the open literature that did show a statistically significant association between hygienic talc use and ovarian cancer,” the letter states. “Anybody who denies this risks that the talc industry will be perceived by the public like it perceives the cigarette industry: denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.”
Help Send a Message and Hold J&J Accountable
Not surprisingly, even after being hit with this recent jury awarded for failing to warn women, Johnson & Johnson continues to dismiss the risk and seems to suggest that it has no intention of adding warnings to the products.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer following use of Johnson & Johnson talcum powder, help strengthen the message for manufacturers that they cannot withhold known risk information from consumers, and help demonstrate that the risk of ovarian cancer from Johnson’s baby powder, Shower-to-Shower and other talcum powders is not a myth.