Evidence That Talc is Carcinogenic
Johnson & Johnson may have known long ago that Johnson's Baby Powder caused cancer
Thursday, October 4, 2018 - There have been about ten lawsuits that have come to a conclusion that Johnson's Baby Powder causes ovarian or lung cancer. Each suit alleges that particles of talc either caused the plaintiff's cancer or the particles were contaminated with asbestos, a known carcinogenic, that caused cancer. Jury awards have been in the billions of dollars and several cases that were decided against the company have been overturned on jurisdictional grounds. The most recent two trials ended in hung juries 8-4 against JNJ, leading to mistrials. All jury awards against Johnson & Johnson are currently under appeal. JNJ's talc supplier, Imreys Inc., settled two cases before allowing the evidence to go to the jury. The amount of the settlement is thought to be around 5 million per plaintiff.
Before evidence of asbestos dominated baby powder cancer trials, it was thought that talc in and of itself could be carcinogenic. Studies of the ovaries of women who had died from ovarian cancer found talc particles had traveled into the vagina and worked their way up into the ovaries, causing inflammation that led to ovarian cancer. Several women suing JNJ were awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in damages since they were able to show that executives at JNJ were aware of the risks the lifelong regular use of baby powder would present but chose not to warn consumers. Company memos revealed at trial demonstrate that JNJ dealt with their awareness of baby powder's ovarian cancer risks by redirecting their marketing towards African American women who were thought of as being a less well-informed and less-educated demographic by the company. African American women in the 1960's and 1970's were race-shamed into believing that they had an odor that Johnson's Baby Powder could eliminate and elevate their public status to that of white women in society. Like so many other ovarian cancer victims that have sued JNJ, the first plaintiff, Jacqueline Fox told her jury "every morning for almost 40 years, Jacqueline Fox sprinkled baby powder into her panties before she put them on. "I was raised up on it," she later explained in a deposition. "They were to help you stay fresh and clean? We ladies have to take care of ourselves. Only after being diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer in 2013, did she learn talcum powder could be a possible carcinogen."
It is difficult to believe that Johnson & Johnson could not have known that there was a link between talc and cancer given the findings of the National Institute of Health. "In the 1960s, a link between talc and ovarian cancer was suggested by observations that some talc powders contained asbestos and that asbestos placed intraperitoneally in animals transformed the single layer of the ovarian surface to a multilayered one with abnormal cells. A 1971 study found particles compatible with talc in human ovarian and uterine cancers. A 1982 case-control study was the first to link genital talc use with ovarian cancer. Dozens more followed confirming the association including some larger ones cited here. In 2006, the International Agency for Research on Cancer declared that talc used genitally is possibly carcinogenic." Talcum powder ovarian cancer lawyers continue to file suit on behalf of women affected by the regular use of baby powder diagnosed with ovarian cancer.