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Talcum Powder Users Blame Product for Ovarian Cancer

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Sacramento, CAWhen science produces conflicting results and experts contradict each other about the toxicity of a product, patients are often left worried that products they used may have caused their cancer. Sometimes when looked on in retrospect - such as with cigarettes or asbestos - the dangers seem obvious. But in other products, such as talcum powder, the danger is less clear. Juries may be no more prepared to deal with the issue than the experts are, with talcum powder cancer lawsuits returning mixed results.

Although multiple lawsuits have returned million-dollar awards to the plaintiffs, at least one lawsuit found for the defendant. In that case, according to GlobalTort (7/1/16), the jury found 9-3 in favor of Colgate-Palmolive Co and Imerys Talc America. In this case, however, the lawsuit did not involve ovarian cancer, instead it involved a claim of mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is linked to asbestos exposure. In the past, talcum powder has contained asbestos fibers, but for decades now has been asbestos free. The plaintiff claimed her mother used talcum powder on her from the time she was born, and she herself used the product until she was a teenager. She was later diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Colgate-Palmolive and Imerys Talc America argued that the plaintiff’s mesothelioma was not caused by talc. Ultimately, a jury agreed with the defendants.

Other talcum powder lawsuits involve claims that the powder is linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer. One ovarian cancer lawsuit resulted in the jury awarding $55 million to Gloria Ristesund. The award included $50 million in punitive damages and $5 million in compensatory damages. Meanwhile, a February 2016 jury award of $75 million was given to the family of Jacqueline Fox, who died of ovarian cancer at the age of 52. Attorneys for the plaintiff argued in that case that Johnson & Johnson knew its talcum powder was linked to a risk of ovarian cancer but did not warn consumers about that risk.

Meanwhile, as of the end of March, there were more than 1,000 claims filed against talcum powder manufacturers, alleging patients were not adequately warned about the potential risk of ovarian cancer, according to Bloomberg (3/31/16).

People speaking for companies involved in the talc industry say their products are safe and they will appeal the massive awards. Meanwhile, however, more lawsuits continue to be filed against companies that supply and manufacture talcum powder, arguing the companies knew about the risks but did not take proper steps to protect consumers.

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