Does Talcum Powder Cause Ovarian Cancer?

Most people don't realize that there is a potential cancer-causing product lurking in their medicine cabinets. Yet, multiple studies dating back to 1908 have shown that talcum powder, specifically Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower brand powder, may actually cause ovarian cancer in women. According to a report in Epidemiology, women who routinely applied talcum powder to their underwear, sanitary napkins, or anywhere near their genitals, had a 33% greater chance of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

The latest study was conducted by researchers at the Obstetrics and Gynecology Epidemiology Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. There, researchers studied 2,041 women with ovarian cancer and 2,100 similar-aged women who used hormone therapy but did not have ovarian cancer. They focused specifically on how much talcum powder these women used. Women who used talcum powder on their genitals on a routine basis to ward off odor and absorb moisture had a 33% higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. The lead author of the study, Daniel Cramer, first reported a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer as early as 1982. He has been lobbying aggressively for warning labels on talcum powder for years. Despite several dozen studies, Johnson & Johnson has refused to place a warning on its bottle.

In 2013, a Harvard study found that genital talcum powder application was associated with a small-to-moderate increase in borderline and invasive ovarian cancers. They also noted that avoiding this risk was easy – and something that would seem a wise precautionary policy. Since 1982, more than 20 epidemiological studies have found increased rates of ovarian cancer in women who routinely use talcum powder for genital hygiene purposes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year in the United States, and 14,500 die from this disease. Yet, despite the mounting evidence, the CDC still has not listed talcum powder as a risk factor for ovarian cancer. However, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer did classify talc as possibly carcinogenic when used in the genital region in 2006.

Lawsuits Increase & Jury Awards Escalate

In March 2016, a jury in St. Louis ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $72 million in damages to a family whose loved one died of ovarian cancer last year after using their product (Case No. 1422-CC09012-01, Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri). It was the first time a jury awarded financial damages to plaintiffs in a talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit. The jury awarded the family $10 million in compensatory damages and $62 million in punitive damages for Johnson & Johnson's failure to warn women about the dangers of talcum products. A jury in North Dakota similarly found that Johnson’s Baby Powder increased the risk of ovarian cancer to a woman who sued them.

To date, Johnson & Johnson has been named a defendant in more than 1,200 talcum powder lawsuits.

Contact Us

If you or a family member has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer or fallopian tube cancer and you used talcum powder on a regular basis, contact our firm today. One of our experienced product liability attorneys will evaluate your case and help you determine if you are entitled to compensation.

To learn more about your legal options or to schedule a free consultation, call the Philadelphia dangerous drug lawyers at Golomb Legaltoday at (215) 278-4449.We accept cases nationwide.