Why Ovarian Cancer Is a Risk for Talcum Powder Users
In recent years, multiple lawsuits have brought to light evidence that women who use talcum powder in their genital area run an increased risk of contracting ovarian cancer. In addition to clinical research that demonstrates a connection between talcum powder and cancer, lawyers who have dug into the issue have found that Johnson & Johnson, the biggest producer of talcum powder products in the U.S., knew of the danger and concealed it from consumers.
Johnson & Johnson and other companies that manufacture, market and sell talcum powder products can be held liable for the harm their negligence has caused. Indeed, more than 1,000 women and families of deceased women have already filed product liability lawsuits alleging that their use of talcum powder products chiefly sold by Johnson & Johnson was the cause of their ovarian cancer.
The Stern Law Firm, PLLC, is working with women and families who believe the cases of ovarian cancer they are dealing with are connected to talcum powder use. Our attorneys can answer questions and concerns and, if evidence points to a connection between your illness and talcum powder use, help you pursue the legal options available to you. We can help you find answers and obtain justice if you have been injured by talcum powder products.
Common Questions about Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer
If you or a loved one of yours has contracted ovarian cancer and believe it is linked to talcum powder use, you are likely to have many questions. A Stern Law attorney can work with you to address your initial concerns and answer your questions. Below, we have listed some frequently asked questions (FAQs) we have heard from others with concerns like yours. Please peruse the information below, and do not hesitate to contact us if we can answer further questions or possibly help you pursue a legal claim.
10 Questions About Talcum Powder You May Have
Click on any question below to reveal the answer.
The cancer risk stems from talc, a silicate mineral that is used to create talcum powder, and how women use body powders. Talc is often found in the earth alongside asbestos, a similar crystalline silicate, which is known to be a carcinogen. Although it is believed that talc products have been free of asbestos since the 1970s, talc’s chemical makeup and crystalline structure are similar to asbestos. Multiple studies over 40 years suggest that talc is also a carcinogen. When women use talcum powder as an absorbent and smoother in undergarments or on sanitary napkins or condoms, talc particles can make their way through the vagina to their ovaries. Once ingested, these silicate minerals have been known to irritate tissue, which can cause the chronic inflammation that may lead to the formation of cancerous tumors. Clinical studies cancerous ovarian tumors have found traces of talc in these tumors.
What has the federal government done about the threat of ovarian cancer caused by talcum powder? Have any talcum powder products been recalled?
Unfortunately, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the federal agency that regulates cosmetics in the U.S., has done very little about products made with talc. There have been no recalls of talcum powder products based on the link between talc and cancer. The FDA is notoriously conservative when it comes to labelling products as dangerous. The lone public inquiry performed by the FDA sought to determine whether talcum powder products contained asbestos. After testing 34 cosmetics, including face and body powders, and four samples of cosmetic-grade raw material talc, the FDA said its study was inconclusive. The agency said its results “do not prove that most or all talc or talc-containing cosmetic products currently marketed in the United States are likely to be free of asbestos contamination.” The FDA said it will continue to monitor information and take steps to protect the public safety as warranted.
Elsewhere, the federal government’s National Toxicology Program continues to decline to list talc in its Report on Carcinogens. In a previous report, the NTP said confusion in the scientific literature over the mineral nature of talc was reason to not include it but did acknowledge “human epidemiological studies reporting an increased risk of ovarian cancer among women using talc for personal use.”
Ovarian cancer accounts for about 3 percent of cancers among women, but it causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. In cases of cancer, instead of “cure,” medical practitioners and others instead talk of survival rates. The American Cancer Society says that if ovarian cancer is treated before the cancer has spread outside the ovary, the five-year relative survival rate is 92 percent. However, only 15 percent of all ovarian cancers are found at this early stage. When considering all types of ovarian cancer and cancer found at each stage, the five-year relative survival rate is 45 percent. The five-year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least five years after their cancer is diagnosed. Women diagnosed when they are younger than 65 respond better to treatment than older women.
Data uncovered in the pursuit of talcum powder lawsuits reveal that some 2,200 cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed each year may have been caused by regular use of talc and that 10 percent or more of all ovarian deaths are attributable to talc.
I understand that African American women are particularly at risk of ovarian cancer caused by talcum powder. Can you explain?
In fact, statistics published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a study published by the Journal of the National Medical Association indicate that ovarian cancer is less prevalent among African American women than among women of other races. However, African American women have been found, as a group, to use body powders more often, which has raised the instance of ovarian cancer linked to talc among African Americans. In a 2016 study published by the American Association for Cancer Research, researchers said more than half of the African American women studied used body powder regularly and that habit was “significantly associated” with risk of ovarian cancer. Those who used body powder on their genitals had more than a 40 percent increased risk of cancer, while those whose use was non-genital had an increased risk of more than 30 percent.
More distressing is a Johnson & Johnson company memorandum made public in recent lawsuits that says Johnson & Johnson outlined a plan in the 1990s to hike flagging sales of its body powder “by targeting” black and Hispanic women with its marketing.
Is it true that Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturers of Johnson’s Baby Powder knew of the connection between talc in its powder and ovarian cancer, but hid it from the public?
Yes, that is what we at Stern Law believe the evidence indicates. In February 2016, a jury ruled in favor the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer after using Johnson’s Baby Powder for many years. That jury was shown J&J company documents that allegedly show the company was warned of the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer by its own medical consultants. These documents have not been made public. However, a 1992 memo that suggests J&J target African American and Hispanic women with advertising to increase their use of body powder also acknowledges “negative publicity” about talc and its “cancer linkage.” Additionally, Johnson & Johnson’s talc supplier added warning labels to its shipments in 2006 indicating a potential link to ovarian cancer, but J&J has not put any warnings on its products. And, of course, there are many public studies dating to 1971 that indicate an increased risk of ovarian cancer among women who use talcum powder.
It seems like studies linking talcum powder to ovarian cancer are inconclusive. How can you prove it for a lawsuit?
A product liability lawsuit, which would be pursued against Johnson & Johnson or other manufacturers of allegedly dangerous consumer products, does not require proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” as is the standard in criminal cases. Product liability lawsuits are prosecuted in civil court and require convincing a jury of the claims made and, for there to be a monetary awarded, that the plaintiff(s) deserves compensation for their losses. A product liability lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff was harmed by a defective and unreasonably dangerous products, and the seller or manufacturer knew about but failed to adequately warn consumers about the inherent risks associated with the use of their products. To prevail in a product liability claim, you must successfully demonstrate that a manufacturer’s product caused your injuries. A skilled attorney, like ours at Stern Law, knows how to effectively handle the complexities of these types of cases in terms of proving causation to the satisfaction of a jury.
I have ovarian cancer and, though I’ve never given it much thought, of course I’ve used talcum powder over the years. Did talc cause my cancer? Do I have a claim?
To pursue a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson for their failure to warn of the dangers posed by using talcum powder, there are particular facts that you should be able to demonstrate about yourself. They include:
- You have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
- You have a history of routinely using talcum powder in your genital area over at least five years.
- You have regularly used Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder.
- A biopsy of your ovarian tissue is positive for traces of talcum powder.
- You do not have a genetic disorder pre-disposing you to ovarian cancer, like the BRCA 1 gene or BRCA 2 gene. Changes, ormutations, in BRCA genes are known to increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Stern Law can discuss your case with you and help you arrange testing if necessary to help determine whether you may qualify to pursue a product liability claim against Johnson & Johnson.
I understand that there are many lawsuits underway against Johnson & Johnson over talcum powder and ovarian cancer. Am I too late?
No, your claim counts, too. Depending on the circumstances of your case and what is likely to be most beneficial to you, you might pursue a product liability lawsuit on your own or you might join an existing class action lawsuit. A product liability lawsuit may take several forms as it works its ways through state court or federal court. When numerous lawsuits are filed that make similar claims against the same entity, a federal district court may establish a class action. The court then appoints plaintiffs who will serve as representatives for all plaintiffs in the class. Additional plaintiffs with similar complaints are allowed (but not required) to join the class action and share in any verdict and/or award at the conclusion of the case. Joining a class action avails you of evidence compiled by the multiple attorneys representing other members of the class, as well as their professional input. However, pursuing an individual claim allows more flexibility in your case, including not being bound by a settlement agreement arranged by the lead attorney in the class action.
How much could I expect to be compensated if I won a product liability lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson?
It is not possible nor is it proper to suggest an amount of money that might be won in a product liability lawsuit. However, a person injured as a result of a defective product may seek monetary damages for medical expenses, out-of-pocket costs, pain and suffering, loss of income, and more, including punitive damages for egregious behavior on the part of the defendant(s). Your attorneys would ensure that all of your economic losses, as well as your non-economic losses (pain and suffering), were calculated and accounted for in your claim. If you were to join a class action lawsuit, you would receive a defined portion of the overall award or settlement based on how many “members of the class” there were.
Though there is substantial cost to pursuing litigation of a product liability lawsuit, this money does not come out of your pocket. Stern Law, PLLC works on a contingency basis and does not charge plaintiffs like you to retain our firm’s services. We will pay all of the costs that are associated with pursuing your case. At the conclusion of the case, if there is no settlement or court award that provides money to you, you will owe us nothing. If there is a monetary settlement or award, we will retain a previously defined percentage as our legal fee and a separate portion to reimburse us for expenses. We can begin work for you with a free initial consultation about your case and the legal options available to you, after which you may retain our services or walk away with no further obligation to us.
Ask Stern Law About your Talcum Powder-Ovarian Cancer Case
If you or a loved one of yours has developed ovarian cancer after prolonged, regular use of talcum powder products, Stern Law, PLLC, can help you. We are currently accepting and pursuing legal claims for women or the families of women with ovarian cancer linked to talcum powder use.
Stern Law seeks justice for the unjustly injured. Ken Stern has dedicated his legal career to helping victims of other people’s negligence. The firm’s primary goal is to provide answers, guidance and support to those dealing with new and debilitating circumstances in their lives. When clients deserve compensation for their injuries and losses we fight hard to see to it that justice is served.
The time to act is now if you are to preserve your legal rights. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation with one of our seasoned talcum powder injury lawyers.