In a case that attracted a lot of attention, in October 2016 a jury in St. Louis awarded a California woman more than $70 million in her lawsuit alleging that years of using Johnson and Johnson’s baby powder caused her ovarian cancer, an often fatal but relatively rare form of cancer. The suit alleged that manufacturer Johnson & Johnson was guilty of “negligent conduct” in making and marketing its baby powder, reported U.S. News.
It was the latest case to implicate extended talcum powder use as a potential cause of ovarian cancer. Earlier in 2016, two similar lawsuits in St. Louis ended in jury verdicts worth a combined $127 million, but two others in New Jersey were thrown out by a judge who said there wasn’t reliable evidence that talc leads to ovarian cancer, according to AP.
Approximately 2,000 women with ovarian cancer have filed similar lawsuits. Lawyers are reviewing thousands of other potential cases following the two big St. Louis verdicts.
Research results have been mixed, and the evidence that baby powder leads to ovarian cancer is not conclusive. The NIH reported in March 2016 on the most recent study that had found that talc can increase the risk of ovarian cancer by as much as 33 percent. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified talc used on the genitals as a “possible” cancer-causing agent (carcinogen). The primary component in talcum powder is magnesium silicate hydroxide (commonly known as talc), a mineral mined around the world, including in the U.S. Unrefined talc can contain asbestos, a known carcinogen.
According to the Huffington Post, the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the use of baby powder on babies during diaper changes, not because of any potential link with cancer, but because babies could damage their lungs by inhaling the fine particles.
Women who are concerned about the possible connection between baby powder and ovarian cancer can find alternative baby powder products on the market. Reported the Huffington Post, “Burt’s Bees Dusting Powder is cornstarch-based, and Johnson’s has a pure cornstarch alternative as well. The Honest Company manufactures its baby powder using a cornstarch and kaolin clay blend instead of talcum.”
Craig Follis has extensive experience in litigation, negotiating and settling suits, and providing legal opinions on liability and insurance coverage. You can reach him at (888) 703-0109 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.