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Who Knew Talcum Powder Could Cause Cancer?

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Boston, MAMost Americans would be surprised to learn that talcum powder, a product used by generations to treat a varying array of skin issues and sometimes used as a traditional hygienic product just because your mom used it and your grandmother too, is a potential carcinogen. Such details have recently come out within the context of a Johnson & Johnson lawsuit alleging their body powder had the potential to cause ovarian cancer.

A recent body powder lawsuit that found for the plaintiff unfortunately did not include punitive or compensable damages for Deane Berg, a faithful user for 32 years of Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products, before a diagnosis of ovarian cancer at the age of 49.

Berg’s talcum powder lawsuit - Berg v. Johnson & Johnson et al., Case No. 4:09-cv-04179, in the US District Court for the District of South Dakota - was the first of its kind to allege that asbestos-free talcum powder had the potential to cause ovarian cancer.

Other lawsuits alleging a link between body powder and cancer have since come forward and are bubbling in the legal pipeline. But if the reference to asbestos noted above took you by surprise, you’re forgiven. Not many people beyond avid collectors of pre-1970s talcum powder tins are aware that at one time, talcum powder contained asbestos.

This is a well-known fact amongst collectors. According to the Naples Florida Weekly (1/30/14), vintage talcum powder tins are a favored item. Among them, a 1964 can of Beatles “Margo of Mayfair” talc features a drawing of the Fab Four. The report spells out, however, that some natural talcum powders back in the day contained asbestos, a known carcinogen that has been removed during the manufacturing process since the 1970s.

However anyone using talcum powder pre-1970, or anyone who may have pressed a vintage talcum powder tin into service, may have been or become exposed to asbestos.

Talcum powder doesn’t have to contain asbestos to be dangerous: allegation

The collecting of vintage talc tins aside, there has been increasing concern expressed in recent years over the potential for body powder and cancer. An abstract of a meta-analysis conducted by the National Institutes of Health and published in the March/April 2003 issue of Anticancer Research, suggested that women who regularly used talcum powder on their perineum (within the context of weekly applications) carried a 33 percent increased risk for developing invasive epithelial ovarian cancer.

The finding of epidemiological evidence of ovarian cancer from frequent use of pure talcum was also promoted in the International Journal of Cancer (11/4/04, pages 458-464).

According to statistics provided by the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, nearly 14,000 US women lost their lives in 2013 to ovarian cancer. A researched article penned by LawyersandSettlements.com writer Brenda Craig denotes that a significant percentage of ovarian cancer cases in the US can be linked to talc. This, from Dr. Daniel Cramer, a gynecologist and epidemiologist who also serves as a professor and researcher at Harvard, who maintains as many as “ten percent of all ovarian cancer cases in the US are related to the use of talcum powder.”

A more recent study pegs that percentage far higher, according to Craig’s article. Led by Dr. Margaret Gates of the Harvard Medical School at Boston, the 2009 study found that women who used talcum powder around their genital area carried a 40 percent higher risk for ovarian cancer. Data from the Nurses Health Study and the New England Case-Control Study were used to arrive at the results.

Plaintiffs in body powder and cancer lawsuits allege that manufacturers should have known about the cancer potential, and accuse the manufacturers of failure to warn.

In the meantime, future plaintiffs and their lawyers are looking at the outcome of the Berg trial with optimism, even in spite of the lack of damages that Berg’s lawyers were hoping to persuade the courts to address in a separate trial. Beyond the rule of law that shut plaintiff Berg out of a damages award, the jury found for the plaintiff on the negligence claim in the Johnson & Johnson lawsuit.

In the meantime, if Grandma has one of those old, collectable talc tins lying around and there’s talcum powder inside, best to keep your distance. There could be asbestos lurking about…

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by

on
Is it possible that use of the powder can cause vulva melanoma? My mom used Shower to Shower and Johnson's baby powder EVERYDAY all her life. She died at 80 years of age last year.

Posted by

on
I had a fallopian tube removed and an ovary relocated at 15 years old. At 17, I had to have scar tissue removed and my bladder/uterus relocated. I am now 34 years old and just had a total hysterectomy this year. I have always used baby powder and are now wondering if that is why I have,had all these medical problems?

Posted by

on
I too used shower to shower all the time and Johnson and Johnson baby powder as a child... I had a dermoid cyst that cut off blood supply to one ovary and had to have it removed... Docsuggested watching the other ovary which also has cysts...cannot bbelieve this was allowed to happen.. I was devasted when it happened...

Posted by

on
I am 48, have not gone through Menapause yet. Have had a child. Have a fibroid and a 4.5-5.00 inch ovarian cyst in my right ovary. I have a lifetime of J&J usage, S2S, talc. What recourse is there for me? Mine is not thought to be cancer, but will likely result in a surgery.

Posted by

on
I've used baby powder since I was a baby into adulthood. I had ovarian cysts that resulted in partial hysterectomy and a few years later a full hysterectomy. Could this be related as well? I wish there was a warning and could have possibly saved me from these surgeries and the years of pain and suffering.

Posted by

on
Im 34 yrs of age ive been using johnson & johnson products all my life me & my children but now i hv ovarian cysts & tlks about a hysterectomy i need to kno if this is connected becuz our parents hv been rubbing us down w johnsons powder lotion shampoo since birth u cannot possibly tell me that theres no link ..

Posted by

on
I had been using talcum powder since 1965, had to have 1 ovary removed at first, then a full hysterectomy a year later due to cysts. Wondering if talcum had anything to do with it.

Posted by

on
I too, used J & J shower to shower and baby powder for years. Start using those products as a teenager. I am now 62 years old. At the age of 42 I had to have a complete hysterectomy due to several leiomyomas, cysts, squamous metaplasia, etc. Before surgery I was in so much pain. NOW I wondering if all of this was caused by J & J talcs. Thank God I had the hysterectomy instead of dealing with ovarian cancer.

Posted by

on
I used Johnson & Johnson talc for years and in 2001 at the age of 42, I developed ovarian cysts and had to have a hysterectomy and have my ovaries removed. Now I am wondering if the talc caused all of this.

Posted by

on
I had a hysterectomy before I was 40 and thought it was just bad luck. In 2014 I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. In 2015 I had my one remaining ovary removed due to a large painful cyst. I am wondering if all this is connected to using baby powder and shower to shower all my life? It has been a miserable experience for me. I am currently in remission but have been told I have a 75% chance my cancer will come back.

Posted by

on
I have used johnson and Johnson all my life and in 2000 they found the first ovarian cyst. I didn't get it removed then it happened again in 2009 I had to have emergency surgery. I'm wondering if this is due to the powder use.

Posted by

on
I have always used both shower to shower and john dons powder for years for female hygiene and had cysts on left overt and had to have it removed is it connected ?

Posted by

on
I had a very deep skin cancer taken off my vaginal a few years ago...I used Shower to Shower powders for years...could this be a result of the powder? So scary.

Posted by

on
I have suffered ovarian cysts since 1999 i have had over 7 or 8 surgeries to remove them also lost my right ovary and had a near death experience when one ruptured in my belly and my left ovary is not that well either i have been using the talcm powder since i was a little girl on my vaginal area to keep cool and i rub my body with the powder when i get out the shower to keep my body cool also the soaps and body wash should i contact a lawyer about this

Posted by

on
On July 17 1974 my mother died at the age of 26 years old. Leaving behind 4 small children and a very young husband. I believe baby powder and some other talc powder caused her death.knowing what I know now about the ingredients in the powder.

Posted by

on
I had an ovarian cyst removed and also used babypowder religiously for about 15 years.

Posted by

on
I had my left ovary removed last year due to a cyst and it was one of the most painful experiences I've ever been through. I've also used baby powder for hygienic purposes since I was about 15. Could this have been a reason why I had to get my ovary removed? Can I file a lawsuit also!! That was one of the toughest things I've ever had to go through. :(

Posted by

on
In response to Travis Salisbury: My mother had a similar situation. She was diagnosed at 81 and passed about 2 years later. She was able to stretch her lifespan due to a particular chemo, which worked for about 9/10 months. She used powder all the time. For decades. She also had no symptoms. I would be interested in your list of attorneys. I've been in contact with one and they are hot on my trail. I'm not convinced they are the right attorney. Would you be willing to share that list? I did keep one of the containers of powder she used.

Posted by

on
My mother Janet Smyth fell from a 3 month bout of Ovarian Cancer in December of 2014, after she had used talc with a heavy hand for about 4-5 years steadily beforehand. Hers was a very aggressive form that didn't produce an onset of symptoms requiring hospitalization until the cancer had already spread aggressively and taken over about 5-6 different organs, including bladder, uterus, endometrius, and both sets of intestines, meaning she was pretty well doomed before any doctor knew about it or had a chance to operate. I had also used talc during that period, but tossed out our old supply when I learned of the talcum link the next spring, though not known to be linked to any male-specific or other cancers at present time, I decided I didn't want to take any more foolhardy chances with the stuff, knowing what I now know, am currently compiling list of attorneys to share my story with.

Posted by

on
wait! I just found out about this! I have a problem with my left cyst just like what I read about the post by Jessie Smith. How can I Take at Test for this. I've been using these powders for years. Nevertheless, baby boomers used it for their children. What!!! Help ASAP!!!

Posted by

on
don't forget AVON products also used talc in there products ,they might be proned to a lawsuit.

Posted by

on
my mother recently passed away of ovarian cancer she used shower to shower every day of her life dating back to when she was a teenager if you think that this does not cause cancer or at least have the possibility of causing cancer I feel very sorry for you Johnson and Johnson needs to do what's right put a warning label on the talc products

Posted by

on
What a load of rubbish, I have used Shower to Shower powder for many many years and have no problems...... as do THOUSANDS of other people..... find something else to blame.

Posted by

on
Used for over 78 years by my mom and myself. .(.2 surgeries)1968 left ovary cyst and appendicts, and 2000 right ovary and bladder repair...vaginal hysterectomy.

Posted by

on
Mother now deceased used talcolm powder all the time had cyst in her overies and we're removed and other complication

Posted by

on
If Talcum powder is bad for your health how is the talcum powder used in industrial use, tire manufacturing. its floating in the air all the time.

Posted by

on
Had both ovaries removed in or about 1996 I have used some form of talc just about all my life. I am now 67 yrs of age.I was told that I was in the first stage of cancer my ovaries were very enlarged

Posted by

on
Johnson & Johnson is fighting a case in India because FDA has found out that they have used Ethylene Oxide -- a known genotoxic carcinogen -- to sterilize their baby powder without FDA approval. Even worse, they have been releasing all these batches of baby powder to the market even without testing for residuals. FDA has so far found evidence of about 160,000 such containers released into the marketplace.

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