Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $72 million in a lawsuit that linked talcum powder to ovarian cancer. In an audio deposition, Jaqueline Fox, a Birmingham, Ala., native who died at the age of 62, recounted 35 years of using Johnson & Johnson products containing talcum powder, including the manufacturing giant’s trademark baby powder and its Shower to Shower body powder. Fox had used these products for feminine hygiene and she believed they were what ultimately killed her.
Talcum Powder Background
Talcum powder is a soft, white powder developed from talc, or magnesium silicate, a mineral composed primarily of magnesium, silicon and oxygen. When it is finely ground, talc absorbs moisture and helps reduce friction. These properties make it a widely used ingredient in cosmetics, personal hygiene products and many other common consumer goods. For many years, talcum powder was a fixture in Americans bathrooms and nurseries, and it was assumed to be an innocuous and soothing substance. Families have dusted the bottoms of infants with talcum powder as an inexpensive and effective way to treat diaper rash and other minor irritations.
Moreover, skin-care product makers also put the refined substance in face powders (both loose and pressed), powdered eye shadow and blush products, among others. Men and women also use talcum powder as body powders, medicated powders, deodorant powders, foot powders, perfumed powders and sanitary/ incontinence pads. Women who use the product for personal hygiene and sanitary means may want to rethink their use after this specific lawsuit, multiple studies that show the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer and the numerous amount of other lawsuits continuing within the legal system .
Ovarian Cancer & Studies
Ovarian cancer is a relatively rare, yet deadly form of cancer that affects women of all ages. Unlike many other forms of cancer, ovarian cancer may not be noticed due to little to no symptoms. This means that many cases of ovarian cancer are only diagnosed after the disease has spread to other parts of the body; such as the pelvic or abdominal region. Unfortunately, once it has spread, ovarian cancer becomes more difficult to treat. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2016, ovarian cancer will affect about 22,280 women, each with the possibility of receiving a new diagnosis of the disease, while about 14,240 women will die from ovarian cancer.
Continually, ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women, accounting for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. A woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 75. Her lifetime chance of dying from ovarian cancer is about 1 in 100—and these statistics don’t count low malignant potential ovarian tumors. To put the talcum powder links in perspective, one expert on the subject of baby powder ovarian cancer, Harvard epidemiologist Daniel Cramer, says that dusting talcum powder on the female reproductive region leads to approximately 10,000 cases of ovarian cancer each year, or about 45 percent of the total new annual cases.
Some other experts and studies include:
- 2003- An analysis of 16 observational studies on the association between perineal talcum powder use and ovarian cancer found a statistical significant result that suggested a 33 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer among women who used talc in the perineal area.
- 2010- A study conducted by Harvard epidemiologist Dr. Margaret Gates and others found a positive association among postmenopausal women, with women who had never used talcum powder linked to a 21 percent increase in risk of endometrial cancer, while regular use was associated with a 24 percent increase in risk.
- 2013- Cancer Prevention Research published “Genital powder use and risk of ovarian cancer: a pooled analysis of 8,525 cases and 9,859 controls,” which found that “genital powder use was associated with a modest increased risk of epithelial ovarian relative to women who never used powder.” 
While these few major studies have found a link between cancer and talcum powder, none have been able to prove causation. Moreover, these studies have not been able to show a link between how much talc powder is needed to be used in order for the risk of ovarian cancer to be heightened. However, the most recent lawsuit in the news has deemed these concerns inconclusive in their own right, as a jury awarded a family of a deceased victim $72 million in actual and punitive damages. Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay Jacqueline Fox’s family after she recounted 25 years of using their products containing talcum powder. In her case, more than three years ago, she was diagnosed with an ovarian cancer that unfortunately proved to be fatal. Fox has used talc powder for feminine hygiene and she believed that these products were what finally killed her.
“We have no higher responsibility than the health and safety of consumers and we are disappointed with the outcome of the trial,” Johnson & Johnson said in a statement Tuesday. “We sympathize with the plaintiff’s family but firmly believe the safety the cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence.”
And yet the jury foreman, Krista Smith, called the company’s internal documents “decisive” for jurors, who reached the verdict after four hours of deliberations. “It was really clear they were hiding something,” said Smith. “All they had to do was put a warning label on.” Continuing on this notion, Allen Smith, a lawyer for the family said, “It was a just verdict given the horrible conduct of Johnson & Johnson.”
As such, Johnson & Johnson not only had to award that massive payout for their false marketing, but they are also facing about 1,200 suits claiming that there are studies that have linked its products to ovarian cancer. Women contend that the company knew and knows of the risk and has failed to warn its customers .
Dolman Law Group
Many women have incorporated talcum powder into their daily lives. Whether it is for their babies or for their own usage; we now know that these products may put women at a higher risk for developing ovarian cancer. The talcum powder industry, with companies such as Johnson & Johnson, knew about the risks and refused to put a warning on their product.
As such, if you or a loved one has developed ovarian cancer and have used talcum powder frequently throughout your day to day life, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys that are on the front line of the talcum powder litigation in Florida. Here at Dolman Law Group, we work with the best doctors in the field and can make sure that you are properly evaluated. If the situation proves necessary, we have the resources and attorneys that will take your case to trial and get the results you are owed. We do not collect payment unless we make a recovery on your behalf. Therefore, call us today at (727) 853-6275 to schedule a free consultation and evaluation.
Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652