Talc powder causes cancer, said a jury in St. Louis on October 27, 2016. The jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a California woman more than $70 million, after ruling that Johnson’s baby powder caused her ovarian cancer. It was the fourth time a jury has agreed with the plaintiff’s argument that talc used for feminine hygiene can cause ovarian cancer, and also agreed that it caused the cancer of the woman who brought a lawsuit.
Johnson accused of Negligent Conduct
This trial that began Sept. 26 was brought by Deborah Giannecchini of Modesto, California. Ms. Giannecchini was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012. Her lawsuit accused Johnson & Johnson of “negligent conduct” in making and marketing its baby powder.
Johnson loses all four Talc-Cancer Jury Verdicts
“Four juries have now ruled that Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder can cause cancer,” said attorney David Matthews, whose firm handles J&J talc cancer lawsuits. “How many more huge verdicts will it take before the company fairly settles these cases?”
Related: Cancer Risks hidden, Jury told
J&J says Talc Powder Safe
In a statement provided to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, J&J spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said the company sympathizes with women and families impacted by ovarian cancer, but added, “We will appeal today’s verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.”
Two earlier talc cancer trials in St. Louis rendered a combined $127 million in verdicts against J&J. In New Jersey, however, two recent talc-cancer lawsuits were unilaterally dismissed by a judge who didn’t want a jury to hear the case. Judge Johnson (with a name to add irony to insult) ruled that no reliable evidence exists to link talc to ovarian cancer. This potentially deadly form of cancer accounts for some 22,000 of the 1.7 million new cancer cases expected to be diagnosed in the U.S. this year, according to the Post Dispatch.
2,000 Talc Cancer Lawsuits
Some 2,000 women have filed similar talc-cancer lawsuits. Matthews & Associates and other law firms are reviewing thousands of other potential cases.
Company-sponsored research has found no link or only a weak link among women who use talcum powder for feminine hygiene and then develop ovarian cancer. Some health groups have declared talc harmless.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys, however, have shown juries research evidence which began linking talcum powder to ovarian cancer back in the 1970s. Case studies have indicated that women who regularly use talc for feminine hygiene can face up to a 40 percent increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Plaintiffs have also accused Johnson & Johnson of targeting overweight, Black and Hispanic women for talc sales – women who are already at highest risk for ovarian cancer. Plaintiffs have presented trial evidence showing this to be the case.
Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors
Factors known to increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer include age, obesity, estrogen therapy, not bearing children, genetic mutations, and a personal or family history of cancer; though recent research has shown that cancer is not usually linked to genetic dispositions.
Possibly Carcinogenic – IARC
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies feminine hygiene use of talc as “possibly carcinogenic.” The National Toxicology Program, made up of segments of several different government agencies, has not fully reviewed talc, according to the Post Dispatch.
Talc is a mineral mined from deposits around the world. The soft mineral is crushed into white powder and used in cosmetics and other personal care products to absorb moisture. J&J began using it circa 1894, when it launched its J&J Baby Powder. Talc is also used in many other products, which include paints and plastics.