Talc causes Ovarian Cancer, says Expert

An expert witness Talc Powder Lawsuitfor the plaintiff testified Feb. 15, 2016 that talc causes ovarian cancer. Washington University’s Dr. Graham Colditz was on the witness stand all day at the fourth Johnson & Johnson talcum powder cancer trial in St. Louis.

Dr. Colditz discussed the body of epidemiological research comparing the cancer rates of talc and non-talc users. The plaintiff is Nora Daniels, a longtime talcum powder user who blames Johnson & Johnson talc for the cancerous tumor she developed and had removed in 2013.

Defense lawyers for J&J objected almost continuously all day as Dr. Colditz testified in regard to studies that found a higher likelihood of ovarian cancer in talc users, and medical agencies that have red flagged talc as a risk.

Talc causes Ovarian Cancer
“What opinion are you here to give today to this jury?” Ms. Daniels’ lawyer asked. Dr. Colditz responded: “At the bottom line, that talc causes ovarian cancer, based on the review of all the evidence.”

Dr. Colditz’ own epidemiology group at Washington University in St. Louis and the Siteman Cancer Center added talc to a website they run which allows people to assess their personal risk levels for certain diseases. He said they did so based on an accumulation of studies.

Misclassification of Talc
The plaintiff’s expert also showed the Nurses’ Health Study, which asked tens of thousands of RNs one question about talc use in 1982, then never mentioned it again in later data collections. Since the data were not accurately and cleanly traced over time, said Dr. Colditz, it was natural that the effect shown by the 1982 data would decay over time due to a known phenomenon in epidemiology called misclassification.

Over time, talc users could have stopped using, and nonusers could have started, but they would remain classified as they were in 1982 for lack of follow-up. However, the study researchers did continue to count the number of cancers contracted in the entire pool over the decades. Therefore, Colditz testified, the baseline cancer rates of users and nonusers would come to appear closer than they actually are over time as more and more people jumped classifications.

Direct examination also showed a July 12, 2006 letter from J&J’s supplier, Imerys Talc America – then known as Luzenac and owned by Rio Tinto – to Mark Ellis, president of the Industrial Minerals Association, in Washington, D.C. The letter revealed that Luzenac decided to abandon funding its own study, which had been set up by a scientific researcher at Crowell & Moring.

This study proposal was first brought to Luzenac’s attention in early 2005 primarily due to the diligent efforts of Bob Glenn,” a Luzenac employee wrote to Ellis. “Luzenac has engaged the consulting services of Bob (through Crowell & Moring) for several years now. Luzenac was prepared to proceed with the study primarily because there was an excellent chance that the study could be completed and a paper written [before] the IARC review in February 2006. We felt that the injection of new data into the talc/ovarian cancer debate was essential.”

But the project was beset by delays, and after it was clear it couldn’t be finished in time to influence IARC, an agency of the World Health Organization, Luzenac abandoned the initiative. IARC ended up classifying perineal talc as a possible carcinogen.

Cross Examination
On cross examination, J&J lawyers showed Colditz one study by the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium, a survey looking at many studies that altogether included 8,525 cases of the cancer and 9,859 controls with no cancer. It found a “modest increased risk of epithelial ovarian cancer”– the type Ms. Daniels had – but expressed doubts regarding the trend across decades or a lifetime.

J&J attorneys hit Colditz with documents that included recent website printouts from the National Cancer Institute and the National Toxicology Program. According to Law 360, J&J counsel fought to leave the impression that the tide of science is turning against a link.

J&J’s counsel also compared talc to other products: Aloe vera, which IARC also classifies as a possible carcinogen, as well as coffee, which was delisted from that category only recently. Then, J&J brought up the subject of two well-known carcinogens, alcohol and red meat.

No Cancer Warnings for Red Meat or Liquor?
“There’s no cancer warning for alcohol that you might buy at the store, right?” J&J attorneys asked Colditz. “You’ve never seen a warning on red meat, a cancer warning on red meat at the store, have you?”

Colditz conceded he had not, although he said they might exist “on websites that talk about causes.”

The case is Swann v. Johnson & Johnson, case number 1422-CC09326-01, in the 22nd Judicial Circuit of Missouri.



Talc Lobbyists derailed Carcinogen Classification

Talcum powder baby-powder-lawsuit1makers like Johnson & Johnson lobbied to “derail” efforts to classify talcum powder as a carcinogen. That’s what a Missouri jury heard Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 at a talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit trial in St. Louis.

Talc Trial Day 1

The first day in court for cancer survivor Nora Daniels began Feb. 9 with opening arguments from her lawyer and J&J defense lawyers. Jurors then watched two hours of deposition testimony from Johnson’s baby products manager Lorena Telofski, as well as testimony from Luzenac America’s Shripal Sharma. A forerunner of co-defendant Imerys Talc America, Luzenac was owned by mining mega-giant Rio Tinto from 1988 – 2011.

Ms. Daniels’ lawyers alleged on day one that Luzenac and the talc lobbying group Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association, attacked and derailed regulator’ serious concerns through intense lobbying. According to Law 360, the lobbyists were responding to the National Toxicology Program’s 2000 nomination of talc for inclusion in its carcinogen inventory, the Report on Carcinogens, or RoC.

$10 Million per Year Potential Loss
Talc companies saw the proposed reclassification change as a make-or-break moment, said Ms. Daniels’ lawyer. An internal Luzenac PowerPoint said an NTP listing would cause a $10 million-per-year loss. A CTFA staffer issued an APB to the group’s Talc Task Force on the very day NTP announced its intent to make the talc cancer classification change.

Two NTP scientific groups had already voted overwhelmingly to list talc as a possible carcinogen. A final vote by the NTP’s Board of Scientific Counselors committee was coming in two months, according to an internal presentation by Luzenac health and safety head Steve Jarvis, shown during Sharma’s deposition. By the time that vote came, however, the talc industry had applied enough political muscle to stop the cancer listing change.

Talc Industry’s “Secret Weapon. . . very aggressive”
Mr. Jarvis boasted about “our secret weapon, [to] engage the services of the Washington-based Center for Regulatory Effectiveness,” according to the document.

Talc Companies “Very Aggressive” with Regulators
“We also became very aggressive in our communication with NTP and other federal agencies,” Mr. Jarvis’ speaking notes read. “[We] didn’t let the windows of ‘formal comment periods’ become restrictive. We sent emails, faxes, overnight letters and even telephone calls to key players in this battl. . . right up until hours before the final executive committee meeting. We achieved a very dramatic turnaround,” boasted Mr. Jarvis.  The BSC committee voted 7-3 against listing talc, and the NTP backed off its review.

Talc Companies derail IARC Classification
Meanwhile, during Telofski’s deposition, plaintiffs’ lawyers made much of a Rio Tinto materials safety data sheet that grew out of another crucial moment: the classification of the World Health Organization agency IARC, of perineal (between the legs) talc use as a possible carcinogen.

Talc Powder Product Liability Lawsuit
IARC’s determination of talc as a potential carcinogen set off a scramble in the industry. Luzenac’s product safety director Rich Zazenski revealed in a March 2006 email, as the company was deciding whether to add a warning to its Material Safety Data Sheet, how concerned the companies should be about talc as a possible carcinogen, despite whatever regulatory requirements the lobbying groups could neutralize. Mr. Zazenski said (some might say presciently said), “Just meeting the regulatory requirements is not a sufficient defense in product liability lawsuits.”

Lies from CTFA Lobbyists
In another document shown Feb. 10, Alfred Wehner of the Academy of Toxicological Science, a consultant on retainer to J&J, wrote in a 1997 letter to J&J preclinical toxicology head Michael Chudkowski that two statements by the CTFA were lies.

The CTFA (now known as the Personal Care Products Council) in 1992 put out a release saying talc posed no risk , which was “outright false,” said Mr. Wehner. In addition, he wrote that a 1994 statement calling study results “insufficient to demonstrate any real association” was “also inaccurate, to phrase it euphemistically.”

Talc Lobbyists derailed Carcinogen Classification
The case is Swann v. Johnson & Johnson, case number 1422-CC09326-01, in the 22nd Judicial Circuit of Missouri.



Talc Powder causes Cancer, says Jury

Talc powder JJ-TALCcauses 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 Overview
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.



Baby Powder Cancer Risks hidden, Jury told

A woman whoTalc Powder Lawsuit used Johnson & Johnson baby powder on her genitals and then developed ovarian cancer urged a Missouri jury on Oct. 4, 2016 to find J&J liable. In opening statement, her lawyer said J&J has known for years about a talc-based baby powder cancer link but failed to warn people about it. All talcum powder cancer lawsuits charge that J&J failed to warn of a talc-cancer link.

J&J prepared Defense Early

During opening arguments in St. Louis, Deborah Giannecchini’s attorney said J&J’s own inside documents showed the company anticipated the talc-cancer litigation to the point of writing out “a question and answer” to prepare for questions from plaintiffs’ attorneys who would sue J&J for women’s ovarian cancer cases. Another internal document feared the company would be compared to the cigarette industry if it failed to warn of the ovarian cancer link with talc powder. The attorney said J&J had been urged since at least 1982 to add warning labels to its talc-based baby powder.

Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer

Ms. Giannecchini has Stage 4 ovarian cancer, her lawyer told jurors, complications from her treatment, a greatly reduced life expectancy.

The attorney said the woman has had her spleen removed, along with part of her stomach and colon, and all of her ovaries and uterus.

Failure to Warn Key

A failure to warn is the legal terminology which sets the bar a plaintiff’s attorney must meet in order to make a case of this nature. The plaintiff’s attorney must not only prove a talc-cancer link, but also show that the company failed to warn of it. Her attorney argued: “[Ms. Giannecchini] said if there would have been a warning on the bottle to not use this on the genital area, she would not have done it and we might not be here.”

Defense Opening

J&J’s attorney argued in opening statement that there is no solid link between talc and ovarian cancer. He said the U.S. FDA and CDC were among “trusted medical institutions” that looked for a potential link but found none. “No one knows what causes ovarian cancer,” the attorney argued.

Imerys Talc America Inc., another defendant, which mines talc for J&J, repeated J&J’s contention that talc is not linked to cancer. Imerys’ attorney added that Imerys did not market the baby powder used by Mrs. Giannecchini, but simply provided the materials used to make it.

Plaintiffs 3-0 against J&J in Talc Cases

Ms. Giannecchini’s trial follows two huge verdicts against J&J in similar cases in 2016.

In February, a Missouri jury rendered a $72 million verdict to the family of Jacqueline Fox.  Ms. Fox died of ovarian cancer after using talc-based powder for decades. It was the first case in which J&J was ordered to pay damages over a talc-cancer link tied to its products.

The Fox family verdict involved $10 million in compensatory damages, $62 million in punitive damages, which are assessed by a jury when it is outraged and wants to send a message to a company it deems has done wrong.

In another J&J loss, in May 2016, a Missouri jury shocked the company with a $55 million verdict in a lawsuit brought by Gloria Ristesund.

J&J also lost a third jury trial, the first ovarian cancer-talc case to go to a jury, in 2013. In that one, a South Dakota jury ruled that J&J had failed to warn a woman about the link between talc-based powders and ovarian cancer. In that case, however, the woman’s cancer had been in remission for six years, though ovarian cancer is usually fatal. The fact that she was apparently recovered, according to legal experts, may have kept the jury from awarding damages despite its ruling that the company failed to warn of a talc-ovarian-cancer link. South Dakota, however, is a staunchly conservative state, which might give J&J pause in considering how long to fight talc cases before coming to the settlement table.

Baby Powder Cancer Risks hidden, Jury told

The case is Giannecchini v. Johnson & Johnson et al., case number 1422-CC09012-01, in the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court of the State of Missouri.



Ovarian Cancer Screening not reliable – FDA

FDA recommends Pelvic Mesh not approved by FDA – The 510(k) Bluesagainst using screening tests for ovarian cancer

While power morcellators can spread undetected uterine cancer when used for fibroid removal or hysterectomies, word comes from the FDA that current ovarian cancer screening is not reliable. Morcellators can spread undetected cancer during hysterectomy or fibroid removal and lead to more serious forms of uterine and ovarian cancer.

FDA issued a safety communication September 7, 2016 to women and physicians, including those working in Primary Care, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Oncology, Gynecologic Oncology, and Genetic Counseling.

Morcellator Safety Questions Abound
The FDA said it was especially concerned about delaying preventive treatments for symptomless women at increased risk of ovarian cancer. But at the same time, the FDA recommends against using currently offered ovarian cancer screening tests.

That announcement begs the question of whether it is safe or reasonable to use a morcellator for any woman’s hysterectomy or fibroid removal procedure. Though morcellators appear to be a safe option for women who do not have cancerous fibroids or ovarian cancer, if ovarian cancer screening is not reliable, how can it be considered safe to use a morcellator on any woman?

Ovarian Cancer Genesis
The National Cancer Institute estimates that more than 22,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2016. Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths among American women.

Abnormal cells in or near the ovaries can grow into a malignant tumor that can turn cancerous. Women who have reached menopause or who have a family history of ovarian cancer, and women with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutations are most at risk for developing ovarian cancer.

Summary of Problem and Scope

Despite research and published studies, no current ovarian cancer screening tests are sensitive enough to “reliably screen for ovarian cancer without a high number of inaccurate results,” wrote the FDA. That dearth of results comes despite several companies marketing tests which claim to screen for ovarian cancer and detect it.

Abcodia Incorporated
The FDA referenced Abcodia Incorporated in its safety alert. That company began marketing its Risk of Ovarian Cancer Algorithm (ROCA) test in the United States. It claimed ROCA could screen for and detect ovarian cancer before symptoms appeared. The company claimed its test could increase the chance for survival. But the data failed to support the company’s claims.

Women and Doctors misled by False Claims

FDA voiced its concern that women and their physicians could be misled by claims of ovarian cancer screeners that can’t reliably screen. The agency said it doesn’t want women to “rely on inaccurate results to make treatment decisions.”

FDA wrote:
“Based on the FDA’s review of available clinical data from ovarian cancer screening trials and recommendations from healthcare professional societies and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, available data do not demonstrate that currently available ovarian cancer screening tests are accurate and reliable in screening asymptomatic women for early ovarian cancer.”

False Positive, False Negative

FDA also said some ovarian screening tests could present a false positive reading. Such women might undergo more medical tests and even unnecessary surgery. They might then experience complications related to both. In addition, test results might not show ovarian cancer even though cancer is present (a false-negative). That could lead women to delay or not seek surgery or other treatments for ovarian cancer.

“At this time (Sept. 7, 2016), the FDA is not aware of any valid scientific data to support the use of any test, including using a test cleared or approved by FDA for other uses, as a screening tool for ovarian cancer.”

Morcellator Use Questionable at Best

With such a powerful statement from the FDA, it is fair to ask whether power morcellators for hysterectomy should be used on any woman at this time.  When power morcellators are used on undetected cancer tissue, they can spread the disease and even make it much more lethal.



Judge Johnson tosses Johnson Talc Cancer Lawsuits

A New Jersey Justice Peaking Blogjudge with a growing reputation for dismissing lawsuits against Big Pharma corporations dismissed two J&J talc cancer lawsuits Friday, September 2, 2016.

Atlantic County Judge Nelson C. Johnson dismissed lawsuits brought by two women who alleged Johnson & Johnson talcum products caused their ovarian cancer. Mr. Nelson decided (“ruled” in legal parlance) that the women’s experts failed to offer enough scientific proof to link talc with ovarian cancer.

Judge Johnson nixes Jury Trials
Judges in three previous talc cancer trials let juries hear, weigh, and decide the evidence. Mr. Nelson, by contrast, seems to prefer not letting cases get to juries. He has become somewhat famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view or Big Pharma stock portfolio) for not letting juries hear and weigh evidence. The judge also singlehandedly wiped out several hundred Accutane cases with a similar ruling.

In several Accutane trials, as in several talc trials, juries heard hard evidence from both sides, weighed it for weeks, then ruled that people were hurt by a company’s actions (Hoffman-LaRoche in Accutane) and awarded them compensation. Despite those previous successful outcomes for Accutane plaintiffs, Mr. Nelson also completely overrode the country’s jury system in that litigation. He decided the science did not support plaintiffs’ arguments, then simply dismissed several hundred cases filed in his court.

Judge Nelson C. Johnson, in granting Johnson & Johnson summary judgment to dismiss,  ruled that Brandi Carl and Diana Balderrama’s experts were qualified, but then he characterized their arguments with tortured nouns such as “narrowness and shallowness.” The judge also argued – parroting J&J’s own lawyers’ arguments which no jury in Johnson’s court would be allowed to hear and weigh – that the women’s witnesses could not explain how talc found in ovaries can cause ovarian cancer.

Judge Johnson tosses Johnson Talc Cancer Lawsuits

Judge Johnson said, Johnson“Though both plaintiffs’ experts are eminently qualified, their areas of scientific inquiry, reasoning, and methodology are slanted away from objective science and towards advocacy. It is the court’s conclusion that the opinions expressed by plaintiffs’ experts fail to demonstrate ‘that the data or information used were soundly and reliably generated and are of a type reasonably relied upon by comparable experts.’ ”

The nuances of many different studies (paid for by Johnson & Johnson in the case of talc) always put all of them to question. The way the studies were designed, how participants were chosen, excluded, eliminated early or later dropped, and a whole laundry list of other factors always beg for interpretation at the end of the day. That’s the whole point of a jury trial in such cases, to let a jury hear all sides of how these studies were conducted by companies with vested interests in the outcomes.

There was a time in the country when a jury was allowed to hear, think, weigh and decide such issues. This ruling represents a disdain for the jury system and the intelligence of all Americans. Judge Johnson simply echoed the arguments of Johnson & Johnson lawyers, as he had done for Hoffman-LaRoche in Accutane.

Talcum Powder Cancer Lawsuits

Attorney David Matthews, whose law firm is handling J&J Talc Cancer Lawsuits, said Judge Johnson’s ruling will affect the more than 200 talc cancer lawsuits consolidated before him in New Jersey’s state courts; however, Johnson’s ruling should not impact the more than 1,000 suits filed in Missouri state court in St. Louis.



Country bans Johnson’s Baby Powder

The nation of Qatar Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancerhas moved to ban Johnson’s Baby Powder from grocery store shelves. According to Al Raya, a Qatar newspaper, Johnson’s baby powder was banned from Qatar stores in March 2016 while the country moved to examine the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer.

Other parts of the world are also paying attention to the shocking verdicts against Johnson & Johnson and its baby powder and shower to shower talc products. In Malaysia April 2016, the Consumer Association of Penang (CAP) warned Malaysians that talc is toxic and can cause tumors.

Talcum Powder raises Ovarian Cancer Risk

Tiny talcum powder particles can embed in the lungs and the ovaries. Studies have shown women who use talcum powder as a drying agent or for feminine hygiene in their genital areas have a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer than those who use no talc. Ovarian cancer is often deadly, largely because it is difficult to detect until it reaches advanced stages.

Qatar Talcum Powder Ban

Qatar’s announcement came in the midst of plaintiffs winning three talcum powder cancer lawsuits in the United States.  Two of those verdicts resulted in large monetary awards for women who used talc and then later developed ovarian cancer and died.

The two large jury awards – $72 million and $55 million – strongly suggest that J&J’s baby powder and shower to shower products have some problems. While the baby powder cancer outcomes in the jury trials do not serve as definitive proof that talcum powder is carcinogenic to women, they do strongly support the notion of a link between baby powder and ovarian cancer. Both juries were shown documents in which it was clear decades ago that Johnson & Johnson officials were concerned about a baby powder ovarian cancer link.

The juries were also shown evidence that J&J targeted Black and Latino women even as it was clear to the company that these women were at greater risk of ovarian cancer through their use of talcum powder.

J&J Found Guilty of Conspiracy, Fraud, Negligence

Both juries which rendered huge awards were presented with extensive talcum powder cancer research. They were also shown several internal company documents which demonstrated that J&J company officials were long aware of a talcum powder cancer link.

The jury which awarded $72 million found J&J guilty of conspiracy, fraud and negligence for failing to warn American consumers of the talcum powder ovarian cancer connection.

Country bans Johnson’s Baby Powder

The Qatari Ministry of Municipality and the Environment issued the ban of talcum powder products on a temporary basis while it examines evidence presented in the baby powder cancer lawsuit. Qatar had convened a governmental committee to examine the safety of baby powder and other talc-based body products prior to the first large verdict, the $72 million award.

J&J Responds

A J&J representative in Qatar insisted Johnson’s baby powder and other talc products are safe for regular use, despite the jury awards.

Qatar continues to test talcum powder for safety. Until the government agency concludes its investigation, Qatar stores will not be permitted to sell Johnson’s baby powder.



Johnson’s Flagship Product Trouble

Johnson and Johnson’sTalc Powder Lawsuit Baby Powder is arguably the company’s flagship product. So much of Johnson’s branding the public has been a result of its long, successful ad campaigns to promote its baby powder, and, with that powder, the idea that the ‘consumer’ can trust Johnson & Johnson entirely. If one can trust Johnson & Johnson to powder one’s baby, one can trust the company with anything, right?


Johnson’s Baby Powder Invention

Frederick Barnett Kilmer, Johnson’s Director of Scientific Affairs (1889 – 1934) was  “responsible for JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder,” according to J&J’s web site.  Dr. Kilmer, says the site, suggested sending tins of Italian talc to customers “to soothe their skin.”  Customers then wrote to tell Johnson, according to J&J, “that the powder also soothed their babies’ bottoms.”  (Talk about early branding!)


J&J’s Facts vs. Reality

Johnson’s web site posting of Feb. 24, 2016, titled “The Facts about Talc Safety” is clearly designed to assuage growing public fears about the safety of its talc after three juries have found the company failed to warn about the link between talc and ovarian cancer. Johnson explains in its “Facts” that J&J baby powder is made from “cosmetic talc,” is one of Johnson’s oldest products, and is a “longtime part of baby care rituals.” (Bandwagon fallacy alert)  Johnson also claims on its “Facts” post that baby powder is “an essential part” of “makeup and skin care routines.”  Is that a fact?

The word “essential,” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means “extremely important and necessary.”  (See: Merriam-Webster/essential)

Baby Powder NOT Essential

By what stretch of the imagination is baby powder or talcum powder “extremely important” or “necessary”?  Do people who fail to use talc sicken or perish?  What planet does Johnson live on to make such an obviously false claim?  Talc and baby powder carry no weight whatsoever in the world of what is “necessary.” How full must a corporate entity be of its own propaganda to believe that its superfluous, unnecessary product is necessary?

J&J has clearly forgotten, or is not familiar with, Rule Number 2 from the classic movie Scarface:  “Never get high on your own supply.”

In its “Facts” blog, Johnson also asserts several things, among them:

* JOHNSON’s talc products do not contain asbestos. (Since) the 1970s, talc used in consumer products has been required to be asbestos-free.  JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder products contain only U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) grade talc, which meets the highest quality, purity and compliance standards.

*     The safety of talc is based on a long history of safe use and decades of research by independent researchers and scientific review boards.

*     The Nurses’ Health Study (2010) and the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Cohort (2014), the only two large-scale prospective studies looking at talc and ovarian cancer, found no causal relationship between talc and ovarian cancer.

What is Talc?

J&J explains on the site that talc is a naturally occurring mineral, chemically referred to as hydrated magnesium silicate. Talc has the formula H2Mg3(SiO3)4 or Mg3Si4O10(OH)2. Talc is a highly stable, chemically inert, odorless white powder [Though some would argue that nothing in this world can be considered entirely inert]  and is the world’s softest mineral.

J&J says, “The grade of talc used in cosmetics is of high purity, comparable to that used for pharmaceutical applications, and is free from asbestos and asbestiform fibers. Cosmetic grade talc is only mined from select deposits from certified locations, and milled to relatively large, non-respirable particles size.”

J&J allows Reader Comments

The end of J&J’s “Facts about Talc Safety” piece allows for some readers’ comments, many of which reference the trial cases Johnson has lost regarding talc’s link with ovarian cancer.  All three juries which have heard talc-ovarian cancer cases have agreed that J&J failed to warn that its baby powder talc is linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

Some 49 comments follow J&J “Facts about Talc Safety.”  To Johnson’s credit, it has allowed publication of not only glowing tributes for J&J, but also comments highly critical of the company’s handling of the talc controversy. Here is a sampling:

Stephan Morin, February 25, 2016:
Just like coorporate America. The ALMIGHTY DOLLAR dictates who live and who dies. Is this what they call collateral damage? At what cost J&J?

Seywonh Smith, February 24, 2016:
Lost my Mom in Aug at 71. She used Baby powder and shower to shower powder for years for feminine hygiene. I do not have BRCA 1 or 2 gene nor did she. She died from Ovarian Cancer, shame on Johnson & Johnson for killing my Mom for a buck.

Looking for alternatives, February 25, 2016:
I’ve been using Johnson and Johnson powder since I was born. I’m terrified now to use the talc powder despite these assurances. (I) feel deeply betrayed by this company which I associated with care and comfort. To read reports that executives knew of a causal link between talc and ovarian cancer as early as the 1980s leaves me saddened and distressed.

Jeannie Whitfield, February 24, 2016 
I have been using J&J Baby Talc daily since 1951 non-stop except for surgery (No perfume) and have never had a single problem and yes it’s mainly for my private parts with great success at being hygenic. (There) must be thousands like myself so why not hold a survey about us?

Elizabeth Foley-Saxon, February 29, 2016:
My husband, daughters and I have used Johnson’s baby powder for many, many years. I just learned of the association between talc and ovarian cancer, and I’m SO disappointed. Even if the risk is small, it’s too much risk to assume. Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of gynecological cancers! The moment that this risk became known, J&J should’ve taken action. This is NOT what you did. You put the bottom line of your corporation before the health of your customers. Our bottles of powder have gone into the trash, and I have purchased talc-free powder. Shame on you!

Talc Powder Lawsuits

Some 1,000Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer or so lawsuits have been filed in state and federal courts in which women or their surviving family members allege that talc use for feminine hygiene caused ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is a rare but deadly form of cancer. In the three court cases so far, all of which have gone against Johnson, juries appear to have been swayed by studies but also by J&J’s internal documents which have revealed that the company knew and was concerned about the link between talc and ovarian cancer back in the early 1980s if not before that time.

Johnson, meanwhile, is sticking to its guns and defending talc as completely safe. The company, at this point, would appear to have little choice but to do so, to deny that there is anything inherently dangerous about talc. If Johnson’s flagship product is shown to cause cancer, and if the majority of the public were to believe that talc is linked with cancer, Johnson’s continued branding of millions of people to continue to sell them billions of dollars in products could be in real danger. At the very least, J&J profits could fall, and that is, of course, the last thing that Johnson wants to see happen.



Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Link

Three juries have Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancerheard evidence of a talcum powder ovarian cancer link. Three juries have heard counter arguments from Johnson & Johnson defense attorneys that no such link exists. Three juries have concluded that such a link does exist. All three juries have also ruled Johnson & Johnson failed to warn women that talc can cause ovarian cancer.

Defense attorneys, meanwhile, continue to argue in the media and on appeal that there is no link, that J&J talcum powder products are safe for women to apply to their genital areas or anywhere else. Defense claims studies show talcum powder is entirely safe.

Scientific Evidence for Talc Cancer Link

What is the scientific evidence for a talc ovarian cancer link?

A professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School and director of the OB/GYN Epidemiology Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston conducted one of the earliest studies linking genital talc use in women and ovarian cancer. His name was Dr. Daniel Cramer and his research was published in 1982. In Dr. Cramer’s opinion, strong evidence from some two-dozen epidemiological studies shows a significant association between talc use for feminine hygiene and ovarian cancer. Dr. Cramer told Live Science that these studies have found regular talc use may increase overall risk of ovarian cancer by about 30 percent. (LiveScience.com: Does Talcum Powder cause Ovarian Cancer?)

A study published in June 2016 showed talc powder applied not only to the genitals but anywhere on the body may raise the risk of cancer. The study also showed that black women – who were specifically target by J&J for talc sales – are at greater risk of ovarian cancer if they use talc.


Talc may cause ovarian cancer if regularly applied to genitals, sanitary napkins

Researchers with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston said talcum powder has been linked to ovarian cancer when applied to genitals. To determine whether genital talc is a potential carcinogen (capable of causing cancer), researchers recruited 2,041 women with ovarian cancer and 2,100 without the illness, and asked them about their talcum powder use. Researchers found that applying the product to genitals, underwear, and sanitary napkins increased the risk of developing ovarian cancer risk by one third.

Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Link

The question then becomes whether these percentages are statistically significant enough to prove approximate causation, general causation and specific causation. The legal bars for each will continue to be haggled over in more talcum powder ovarian cancer trials to come.



Talc Cancer Risk Greater for Black Women Targeted

Black women Talc Powder Lawsuitwho reported regular use of talcum body powder were at greater risk for ovarian cancer compared to their peers who didn’t use talc, according to a new study. That is not good news for Johnson & Johnson, which already faces several Talcum Powder Cancer Lawsuits across the country. J&J’s own documents have shown in talc powder ovarian cancer trials that the company actually targeted black women to increase talcum powder sales.

Contrary to previous studies that showed talc used for ‘feminine hygiene’ raised the risk of ovarian cancer, researchers for this study reported a link between regular talcum powder use and ovarian cancer regardless of where women used it. Women who used talc on their genital areas experienced more than a 40 percent increased risk of cancer; those who used talc powder only on non-genital areas increased their ovarian cancer risk by more than 30 percent.

Talc an Avoidable Cancer Risk

Lead investigator Joellen Schildkraut told Reuters Health in a telephone interview, “African-American women have been targeted for use of body powder, and they use it more commonly. “I’ve concluded: why use it?”

An epidemiologist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Ms. Schildkraut had been skeptical about whether talc used on genital areas could cause deadly ovarian cancer. Her new study, according to Reuters, along with other recent research studies, have convinced her to advise women to avoid talcum powder.

“It’s an avoidable risk for ovarian cancer,” she said.

Ms. Schildkraut’s research team interviewed 584 black women with ovarian cancer and 745 black women without it from southern, eastern and midwestern U.S.

Nearly 63 percent of the women with ovarian cancer and some 53 percent of the healthy women in the control group used talcum powder, reported the researchers in Cancer Epidemiology.

Black Women Underrepresented

The National Cancer Institute’s head of clinical epidemiology, Dr. Nicolas Wentzensen, said black women are underrepresented in many epidemiological studies.

Dr. Wentzensen via email told Reuters Health that Ms. Schildkraut’s research was well-conducted, that it confirms previous studies linking talc use with an increased ovarian cancer risk. Dr. Wentzensen also noted the study found stronger associations between talc use and ovarian cancer than had previous research. A December 2015 paper in the journal Epidemiology, for example, reported a 33 percent higher risk of ovarian cancer in women who said they routinely applied talc to genitals, sanitary napkins, tampons, underwear.

Black women in the past have reported significantly higher use of so-called feminine hygiene products both on the body generally and on genitals. A 2015 case-control study in Los Angeles found 44 percent of black women reported talcum powder use, compared to 30 percent of white women and 29 percent of Hispanic women.

Talc Cancer Risk Greater for Black Women Targeted

Johnson and Johnson outlined a plan in the 1990s to increase talcum powder sales “by targeting” black and Hispanic women. This fact was made clear in a company memorandum made public in recent lawsuits leading to $72 million and $55 million verdicts against Johnson & Johnson and an associated talc maker.

Prospective Studies Questioned

Prospective studies that follow participants over time are typically considered more reliable than studies that look backward, and two prospective studies have failed to link talc with ovarian cancer. However, Ms. Schildkraut believes the two prospective studies cited by J&J defense lawyers and myriad media defenders of J&J included too few talc users and too few women with ovarian cancer to unveil a relationship.

Because black women tend to use talc more, Ms. Schildkraut believes that studying a sizable group of black women, as she did, makes the study more relevant and might explain the stronger association.

Dr. Wentzensen said recall bias, particularly following large jury verdicts, might explain the stronger association in the new study. Ms. Schildkraut said she considered recall bias, but tends to believe women were more likely to correctly remember their use of talc.

20,000 Ovarian Cancer Cases Yearly

Every year, an estimated 20,000 American women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, an estimated 14,500 of whom die, according to the CDC.

Dr. Daniel W. Cramer, who heads the Obstetrics and Gynecology Epidemiology Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, first reported a link between genital talc and ovarian cancer in 1982. Since then, he’s been calling for warning labels.

In a recent editorial in Gynecologic Oncology, cancer genetics expert Dr. Steven Narod of Women’s College Research Institute in Toronto wrote, “In the interests of public health, I believe we should caution women against using genital talcum powder.” Narod also wrote that it’s “disingenuous to state that there is no evidence that talc is associated with ovarian cancer.”

Free Legal Consultation

Matthews & Associates Law Firm is handling talc-ovarian cancer cases nationwide. If you or someone your love has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using talcum powder, call us for a free legal consultation.