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Talcum Powder

Talcum powder was advertised for years as a gentle, soft solution to excessive moisture, itchiness and other skin issues in sensitive areas, particularly for babies and women. However, as we have learned in recent years with a swell of litigation, talc is strongly associated with a host of health issues, including deadly ovarian cancer.

Many of those now being diagnosed with cancer after years of daily use of this product are taking legal action against the primary producer of the powder, New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson.

Massachusetts injury lawyers at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman are well-versed in the ways in which Johnson & Johnson reportedly attempted to conceal for years the damage cause by numerous products, including talcum powder. Many of the claims of liability allege not just that the product was unreasonably dangerous, but that the manufacturer failed to warn consumers.

Attorneys at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman have successfully litigated cases against the sellers of asbestos-contaminated talc products in recent years. These lawsuits were based upon the use of asbestos talc in joint compounds that resulted in a client developing mesothelioma.

What Is Talc?

Talcum powder is used in a host of cosmetic products, including baby powder, makeup, facial powders, body powders and other cosmetics. It’s generally regarded as being helpful in wicking away moisture and preventing rashes. It’s typically used in the genital/ anal area of infants.

Talcum powder is made from talc, which is a naturally-occurring mineral comprised of various elements, including silicon, magnesium and oxygen. In its natural form, it’s also known to contain tremolite asbestos as a contaminant. It is alleged by that talcum products used in the U.S. have been asbestos-free since the 1970s.

Asbestos, as you may know, is a toxic substance known to cause cancer of the lining of the lungs and sometimes stomach, a condition known as mesothelioma. There is no cure for mesothelioma.

The link between asbestos-free talc and cancer is less established, but there is nonetheless a strong and growing body of evidence illustrating the dangers of talc and its byproducts.

Published Medical Studies

Although studies on the connection between talc and cancer are relatively newer, repeated studies of varying accepted methodologies have reached similar conclusions.

There are two main types of studies:

Laboratory studies. These are typically conducted on animals, who are exposed to the substance in large doses to ascertain if there is an issue.

Some of the lab study results have included:

  • A 2007 study published in Phytotherapy Research that concluded human ovarian cell lines exposed to talc showed an increased proliferation of neoplastic transformation, which is the growth pattern typically seen in malignant tumors.

Epidemiological Studies. This type of research examines patterns, causes and effects of health and disease in defined populations. This kind of research has thus far on this issue been much more common than lab studies.

Some of the epidemiological study results have included:

  • A 1982 study of 430 women (half with ovarian cancer, half without) by Harvard researchers, published in the journal Cancer, found those with cancer were more than twice as likely to have used talcum powder regularly were twice as likely to develop cancer. Those who used it on their genitals and sanitary pads were more than three times as likely to be at risk.
  • A 2014 study published in Cancer Prevention Research which concluded there was a 24 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer among women who used talc-based powders on their genitals.
  • A 2015 study published by the European Bioinformatics Institute (with assistance from researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health, both in Boston), which revealed a 33 percent increase in ovarian cancer risk among women who applied the talc on their private parts.
  • A 2016 study published by the American Center for Cancer Research which revealed a 40 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer among women who used the powder products on their genitals, compared to those who used the powder in non-genital areas, who saw the risk spike by 30 percent. African American women – the target of aggressive marketing campaigns by Johnson & Johnson in the 1990s – were especially at risk, researchers concluded.

Although there are some studies that conflict with these findings, several researchers have criticized those studies as not being large enough and didn’t track study participants long enough. Cancer is notoriously tough to study because it often develops overtime, and the exact causes may not be precisely traceable. Studies dating back to 1971 showed particles of talc embedded in ovarian and cervical tumors.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared in 2010 that perineal use of talc-based body powder is “possibly” a cancer-causing agent for humans.

Talc Cancer Lawsuits

Since this connection has been revealed, thousands of women have begun filing injury lawsuits against consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson.

Johnson & Johnson’s talc supplier started adding warning labels to its products starting in 2006. However, Johnson & Johnson has not, as of yet, have any warnings on its products. There is a warning on baby powder to keep it out of reach in children and a notation that many doctors discourage it for use on children, who could become ill or even die due to breathing the particles.

So far, claims going to trial have had noted success. In 2016, plaintiffs in two separate cases won $55 million and $72 million respectively after prevailing with their claim that the product maker was negligent in making an unreasonably dangerous product.

Recently, talcum powder ovarian cancer cases were consolidated into an MDL (Multi District Litigation) in New Jersey Federal Court. All Federal cases against Johnson & Johnson will be filed for pre-trial purposes in this jurisdiction.

If you have questions about whether talc or talcum powder may have played a role in your illness, we can help you determine your legal rights.

Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.

Call (617) 367-2900 – NO FEE UNLESS SUCCESSFUL

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