July 18, 2016 - A growing body of research has established a link between the long-term use of talcum powder in the genital region and ovarian cancer. Despite this, Johnson & Johnson—a leading seller of talcum powder, both in their baby powder and in their Shower to Shower brand—has continued selling powders containing talc. The company also sells baby powders which use cornstarch rather than talcum powder, so it is unclear why the company has continued to sell talcum powder.
Despite a recent $72 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson, to the family of a woman who died at age 62 from ovarian cancer, after using J & J’s talc products for feminine hygiene for more than three decades, the company continues to maintain the safety of talcum powder. The FDA has also declined to require warning labels on talcum powder, calling the research on the subject “inconclusive.”
Additional Studies on Talcum Powder Risks
One study done in 1971 found particles of talc deeply embedded in removed ovarian and cervical tumors. A 1976 study (which was a follow-up to a 1968 study which concluded about 20 percent of talc was similar to asbestos fibers) determined that regulatory standards were necessary for the marketing of talcum powder, however those standards were never put into place. A Harvard study done in 1982, determined women who routinely used talcum powder for feminine hygiene had almost twice the risk of ovarian cancer while those who used talcum powder for feminine hygiene as well as using it on sanitary napkins, increased their risk of ovarian cancer by 3.28 times.
The Cancer Prevention Coalition asked Johnson & Johnson to remove talc from their powder products in 1994, but the company refused. Canada determined talc was potentially toxic in 2006, and the World Health Organization noted that same year that potentially as many as half of all women across the globe could be using talc in a manner which could potentially increase their risk of developing talcum powder ovarian serous invasive cancer.
The Risks of Developing Talcum Powder Ovarian Serous Invasive Cancer
A woman’s average risk of developing ovarian serous invasive cancer are approximately one in 71, primarily because ovarian cancer is rarely diagnosed until it has progressed significantly. The symptoms associated with ovarian cancer are very vague, meaning most women don’t consider they could have ovarian cancer.
The long term use of talcum powder may cause the talc fibers to transmigrate through the Fallopian tube and into the ovaries, causing inflammation and resulting in a latent risk of talcum powder ovarian serous invasive cancer. Ovarian serous invasive cancer is the most malignant form of ovarian cancers, accounting for approximately 70 percent of all cases. Many believe this very serious type of ovarian cancer originates in the fallopian tube, and could possibly be the result of talc fibers in the Fallopian tube and ovaries.
Despite the recent $72 million verdict in favor of a plaintiff in Missouri, J & J continues to maintain the safety of talcum powder, stating a causal link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer is not biologically plausible and asserting there is no absolute scientific proof that talc particles can travel through the genital tract to the ovaries, therefore no warnings are required. If you or a loved one developed talcum powder ovarian serous invasive cancer after using J & J’s talcum powder for an extended period of time for feminine hygiene, it could be beneficial to speak to an experienced talcum powder ovarian cancer attorney.