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Product Liability: Is Talcum Powder Still On The Market?

September 1, 2017 · FLEMING | NOLEN | JEZ, L.L.P.

In previous blogs, we discussed talcum powder and its association with an increased risk of causing ovarian cancer in women. In one notable case resolved just last month, a Los Angeles jury awarded $417 million in compensation to one 63-year-old woman who used Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder for decades.

According to thousands of currently pending talcum powder lawsuits, victims are alleging that companies like Johnson & Johnson failed to adequately warn consumers about increased ovarian cancer risks associated with using their talc powder products for genital hygiene. Although medical experts in many of these cases testify to increased risks, the American Cancer Society has stated that studies have been mixed.

While experts debate the association between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, the fact remains that a number of talcum powder products are still available on the market. Here are a few important things you should know in regard to risks and current scientific studies:

  • The debate over talcum powder began in the early 1970s when researchers discovered talc particles in ovarian tumors. Another study from 1982 also reported a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer in women who used those products regularly. Several similar studies also reported increased risks.
  • Critics have commented that the studies reporting a link between talcum powder and cancer have serious drawbacks, including “recall bias,” where patients may overestimate their prior use of a product following a diagnosis, and difficulties. However, studies that find no links are also criticized for issues stemming from the rarity of ovarian cancer, and that these studies don’t always end up with enough cases to detect potential links.
  • In response to continued adverse event reports and conflicting studies, the FDA is conducting its own research into talc’s effects on female genital tissues.
  • Although studies are mixed, one prevalent theory is that talcum powder applied to the genital area can migrate up the vaginal canal and into the ovaries, where it causes inflammation that can lead to malignant tumors.
  • Many physicians discourage women from using talcum powder on the genital area, as well as on diaphragms and sanitary wipes. Many pediatricians also discourage the use of talcum powder on babies due to risks of breathing problems caused by particles.

Talcum powder is still on the market, which means consumers should exercise discretion when using these products, especially on the genital area. However, the problem in currently pending lawsuits is that many of the women who developed ovarian cancer claimed to have also used talcum powder products for decades. Even if you begin avoiding the product now, you have a right to explore your rights and the connections between talcum powder and ovarian cancer by working with proven lawyers.

Our legal team at Fleming | Nolen | Jez, L.L.P. is actively assisting women who would like to learn more about pursuing a lawsuit involving ovarian cancer and long-term talcum powder use. To discuss a potential case with a member of our team, contact us for a free consultation.