On July 12, a jury in St. Louis awarded $4.69 billion to 22 women who used talcum powder as a daily feminine hygiene routine. Unfortunately, six of the women involved in the case have already died from ovarian cancer. The 16 others worry the same is going to happen to them.
That is because talcum powder has long been linked to ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, a form of cancer that originates because of asbestos. Mesothelioma is a low-level inflammation in the lungs that takes years to manifest. Ovarian cancer is the most aggressive form of cancer and a diagnosis is devastating.
Why asbestos? In the 1970s, asbestos was found in talc mines. Cervical and ovarian tissue samples showed talc residing in women who were biopsied who had cancer. The majority of claims argue that talcum powder causes ovarian cancer. Since then, experts have debated within the court system about the validity of such claims.
Talc is a soft mineral and located near deposits of minerals that contain asbestos. Studies indicate a cross-contamination during mining is possible, but Johnson & Johnson maintains its products are safe to use.
The International Agency for Research in Cancer, a part of the World Health Organization, classified talc as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” Other governmental agencies say more research is needed before they follow suit of WHO.
In April, Stephen Lanzo of New Jersey was awarded $117 million after he successfully won a court battle claiming his decades-long use of Shower to Shower caused his mesothelioma.
But the numbers continue to rise in both women and men who used baby powder or talcum powder products. Johnson & Johnson currently faces over 9,000 talcum powder lawsuits from people across the country. Nearly 7,000 of those cases reside in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in a federal court in New Jersey.