The talcum powder lawsuits claim the manufacturers failed to warn users of talc of the increased risk of ovarian cancer and mesothelioma when women use these products for personal hygiene.
Our law firm is seeking compensation for individuals who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer or mesothelioma and who had significant exposure to talcum powder, including Johnson's Baby Powder.
We have been handling lawsuits against product manufacturers since 1955. Each year we teach 1,500 attorneys how to successfully handle these cases. We are listed in Best Lawyers in America and The National Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame.
What Do We Know About the Talcum Powder Lawsuits
The talcum powder lawsuits claim the manufacturers of talcum powder have known for more than 40 years there is a link between using the product and ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.
Yet, these companies intentionally made the decision not to warn women that the powder could cause cancer by entering the lungs or the vagina after being applied for personal hygiene, and especially after use on the genital area or on sanitary napkins or condoms.
The main talc products used for personal hygiene are: Johnson’s Baby Powder by Johnson & Johnson; Shower to Shower by Valeant Pharmaceuticals; and Baby Magic Baby Powder.
Talcum powder is a fibrous, white powder made by heavily refined hydrated magnesium silicate that is widely used as a lubricant and to absorb moisture. It's the main ingredient of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder as well as the adult version of similar personal hygiene products.
As a cosmetic, it’s mostly appreciated for its ability to absorb bad smells and keep the skin dry when sprinkled on underwear, shoes, and after changing infant diapers. As a lubricant, it’s often found in condoms and diaphragms to reduce friction, as well as in many medical powders.
Talcum can be used by direct application on the skin, dusted or sprinkled over underwear, diapers, and sanitary pads.
Talcum Powder Injuries & Side Effects
The most serious potential side effect from women using talcum powder is ovarian cancer (caused by the powder entering the ovaries through the vagina) and mesothelioma (caused by the talcum powder entering the lungs).
According to the International Journal of Gynecological Cancer, frequent talcum powder use on the female genital area increases the risk of cancer between 30–60%. The more often a woman uses it, the more likely she will experience cancer.
Although the exact mechanism through which talcum powder causes cancer is still unknown, one theory involves chronic inflammation of the genital area, as talc particles rise through the uterus, up to the fallopian tubes and ovaries. Other than direct contact with the mucous membrane, the powder may also suppress some antibodies that usually protect against cancer, increasing its risk.
In general, prominent medical researchers, including obstetrician Dr. Daniel Cramer and Professor Karin Rosenblatt, agree that regular perineal use of talc-containing products can increase a woman's risk of ovarian cancer by approximately 30%.
Talcum powder also has been associated with respiratory issues, including mesothelioma. This is caused by the powder becoming airborne during normal application. Prior to the 1970s, and even today, some talcum products contain asbestos, a naturally-occurring mineral and known carcinogen. Additionally, researchers have noted that talc has a chemical similarity to asbestos. Like asbestos, talc is a silicate mineral, having a crystalline structure. When ingested, these minerals have been known to cause irritation, leading to the chronic inflammation that can lead to the formation of cancerous tumors.
Talcum Powder Lawsuit Settlement Amounts
In October 2020, Johnson & Johnsons agreed to pay $100 million to resolve more than 1,000 lawsuits in which plaintiffs allege that asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder causes cancer.
In March 2019, a California jury awarded $30 million to Teresa Leavitt who was diagnosed with mesothelioma which the jury found was caused by the use of Johnson & Johnson talcum powder.
In July 2018, a St. Louis jury awarded 22 women $4.6 billion against Johnson & Johnson for causing them to suffer ovarian cancer related to the use of baby powder and asbestos fibers contained in the J&J product.
In May 2018, Joanne Anderson received a $25 million jury verdict after a jury concluded that Ms. Anderson's mesothelioma was caused by her use of talcum powder on her children and while she bowled.
In April 2018, Stephen Lanzo was awarded $37 million in compensatory damages, and $80 million in punitive damages, against Johnson & Johnson over claims that he contracted mesothelioma caused by extensive use of talc powder products that contained asbestos.
In August 2017, Eva Echeverria received a $417 million jury verdict. She was dying from stage 4 ovarian cancer, after having used baby powder on a daily basis from the 1950s through 2016. The verdict included $68 million in compensatory damages and $340 million in punitive damages.
In May 2017, a St. Louis jury awarded $110 million to Louis Slemp who was being treated for aggressive ovarian cancer that had metastasized to her liver. She had used baby powder for more than 40 years.
In November 2016, a California jury returned a verdict of $70 million for Deborah Giannecchini. She was undergoing radiation and chemotherapy for ovarian cancer, and had used talcum powder for more than 40 years. Sixty-five million dollars of the verdict was for punitive damages.
In May 2016, a jury found in favor of Gloria Ristesund, who was being treated for ovarian cancer. She had used Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder for decades. The amount awarded was $55 million.
In February 2016, a jury determined that Johnson & Johnson was responsible for the death of Jacqueline Fox, who had been using talcum powder for personal hygiene for more than 35 years. The total award was $72 million, including $62 million in punitive damages.
As of October 2021, more than 36,000 lawsuits were pending in federal court against the manufacturers of talcum powder by individuals claiming to have suffered cancer from exposure to this product. The cases are being heard by Judge Freda Wolfson in the District of New Jersey.
Talcum Powder Lawsuit News
J&J to Pay More Than $100 Million to End Over 1,000 Talc Suits
Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay more than $100 million to resolve over 1,000 lawsuits blaming its baby powder for causing cancer, in the first set of major settlements in four years of litigation. Published in Bloomberg News
$4.69 billion verdict against Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder
In this ovarian cancer jury verdict, attorneys successfully argued that Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and Shower to Shower contained asbestos. Scientists presented evidence that the tissue with the ovarian cancer cells contained asbestos and talc particles. Published in CNN - Asbestos Talc Verdict
J&J Loses Second Talcum Powder Trial on Link to Mesothelioma
Jurors in state court in California concluded Wednesday J&J was liable for Joanne Anderson’s mesothelioma and awarded the 68-year-old compensatory damages. Anderson’s lawyers said she was exposed to baby powder laced with the carcinogen when she used it on her children and while bowling. Published in Insurance Journal - Mesothelioma Verdict
Does Talcum Powder Cause Ovarian Cancer?:
Dr. Daniel Cramer, 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 to suggest a link between genital talc use in women and cancer of the ovaries. In his opinion, there is h4 evidence from about two-dozen epidemiological studies for a significant association between genital talc use and ovarian cancer. Published in Live Science - Potential Talcum Powder Cancer Link
What You Need To Know About The Claim Linking Baby Powder To Ovarian Cancer:
The few studies that exist are contradictory. In some lab studies, scientists exposed asbestos-free talc to animals, which resulted in an increase in tumor formation in the animal. But other studies have not seen the same result, according to the American Cancer Society. Published in Huffington Post - Baby Powder Cancer Claim Information
Johnson & Johnson hit with $37M verdict in asbestos-related cancer lawsuit:
Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier have been hit with a $37 million verdict in compensatory damages over claims that a New Jersey man contracted a deadly form of cancer from using the healthcare giant's talc powder products that contained asbestos. Published in USA Today - Mesothelioma Talc Powder Jury Verdict
Woman Gets $417 Million Verdict From Johnson & Johnson in Baby Powder Cancer Suit:
A Los Angeles jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene. Published in NBC News - $417 Million Baby Powder Jury Verdict
Johnson & Johnson Hit With $110 Million Verdict in Baby Powder Cancer Suit
The plaintiff was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, and claimed her illness was caused by 40 years of talcum powder use. Her cancer had spread to her liver, and she was too ill to attend the trial. Published in NBC News - $110 Million Talc Powder Verdict
Jury Awards $70 Million in Johnson & Johnson’s Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Case:
A jury awarded a Californian woman more than $70 million dollars in Johnson & Johnson’s third straight legal loss over claims that its talcum powder is linked to ovarian cancer. There are currently over 1,700 lawsuits being brought against the pharmaceutical giant and the last three verdicts present a foreboding picture to come for Johnson & Johnson. Published in National Law Journal - $70 Million Talcum Powder Cancer Award
Court Orders Johnson & Johnson to Pay $72M in Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Claim?:
Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a Missouri state jury to pay $72 million of damages to the family of a woman whose death from ovarian cancer was linked to her use of the company's talc-based Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for several decades. In a verdict announced late Monday night, jurors in the circuit court of St. Louis awarded the family of Jacqueline Fox $10 million of actual damages and $62 million of punitive damages, according to the family's lawyers and court records. Published in NBC News - $72 Million Baby Powder Cancer Verdict
Johnson & Johnson slammed again in a talcum powder trial:
A jury in St. Louis has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $55 million to a South Dakota woman who claimed the company's talcum powder caused her to develop ovarian cancer. Published in CBS News - Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Trial
“Why aren’t they warning women about it?” The toxic danger in your baby powder:
Deane Berg’s doctor called her in the day after Christmas, 2006, to give her the crushing news. Berg had stage III ovarian cancer, and her prognosis was poor. Grappling with the “why me?” question, she studied the risk factors, finding just one that could apply: regular use of talcum powder for feminine hygiene. Published in Salon - Toxic Danger of Baby Powder
FDA and Scientific Studies Regarding Talcum Powder
Does Talc Exposure Cause Ovarian Cancer?
Talc use increased ovarian cancer risk by 30–60% in almost all well‐designed studies. The Attributable Risk was 29%, meaning that elimination of talc use could protect more than one quarter or more of women who develop ovarian cancer. Well‐designed studies that considered dose‐response by both duration and frequency all found higher risk among women exposed to more applications. Published in International Journal of Gynecological Cancer - Talc Ovarian Cancer Exposure
Talc Use and Ovarian Cancer: Epidemiology Between a Rock and a Hard Place
The biological basis of possible talc carcinogenicity is not understood. Direct physical contact of talc with ovarian epithelium may cause chronic inflammation; some studies have suggested retrograde transport of talc particles through the reproductive tract. A mechanism that would not require direct contact of talc with the tissue at risk is reduction of anti-MUC1 antibodies, which are associated with lower risk of ovarian cancer. Published in Journal of the National Cancer Institute - Talc Use and Ovarian Cancer
Perineal talc use and ovarian cancer: a critical review
Talc, like asbestos, is a silicate that has been studied in relation to cancer risk. Several studies conducted over the past 25 years found an association between perineal talc powders and ovarian cancer. The summary relative risk is about 1.3 (95% confidence intervals 1.2-1.5) and these data have been interpreted as supporting a causal role. Published in European Journal for Cancer Prevention - Critical Review of Talc & Cancer
What Are the Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer?
Some studies suggest a very slight increase in risk of ovarian cancer in women who used talc on the genital area. Published in American Cancer Society - Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer
Perineal exposure to talc and ovarian cancer risk
A life-time pattern of perineal talc use may increase the risk for epithelial ovarian cancer. Published in Obstetrics and Gynecology - Talc Use & Ovarian Cancer
Talc and Carcinoma of the Ovary and Cervix
Tissue was examined from patients with ovarian and cervical tumours. In both conditions talc particles were found deeply embedded within the tumour tissue. Published in International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology - Talc and Carcinoma
Talcum Powder Recall Information
As of this time, there has not been a recall of any of the talc-based products as a result of ovarian cancer. However, it should be understood that talcum powder is not a product regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. The manufacturers regulate themselves for talcum powder.
There are numerous scientific studies (provided above) showing that women who use talcum powder on their genitalia once per week face up to a 30-60% increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Additionally, in 2006 the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified genital talcum powder use as possibly carcinogenic to humans. Similarly, in 1999 the American Cancer Society recommended women use cornstarch-based products, and not talc-based products, for the genital area.