Talcum powder. What images come to mind? Clean, smiling babies? Johnson & Johnson ads urging you to trust your family’s health to their family’s products?
These images stand in sharp contrast to the litigation that’s been brewing over allegations that the company’s talcum powder products cause ovarian cancer in women. The lawsuits, which include two consumer class actions as well as several individual product liability actions, allege that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has known about the ovarian cancer risk associated with the use of its talcum powder products for feminine hygiene for decades, yet has failed to adequately warn users about the dangers and continues to market the products as safe.
The Deadly Side of Talcum Powder Known and Yet Ignored
Talc, one of the main ingredients in Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and Shower to Shower®, is a naturally occurring mineral that shares chemical similarities with asbestos, another mineral widely known to cause deadly lung cancers. Scientific research dating back at least 30 years has linked women’s use of talcum powder in the genital area with higher incidences of ovarian cancer. Researchers have discovered that talc particles, when applied to the genital area, can travel from the vagina into a woman’s fallopian tubes and ovaries, and potentially lodge in the body for decades.
The recently filed lawsuits follow an October 2013 verdict by a South Dakota jury which found that talcum powder use contributed to plaintiff Deane Berg’s ovarian cancer. Like many women, Deane Berg used J&J’s baby powder and Shower to Shower on a daily basis to relieve chafing and for feminine hygiene purposes, for more than 40 years. Berg was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006. When her ovaries were removed, talc was found embedded in the tissue. Her suit, filed in 2009, was the first in the country to claim that asbestos-free talcum powder can cause ovarian cancer.
Although the jury found that J&J failed to warn about potential ovarian cancer risks with use of its talc products, it did not agree that the products were defective without such a warning, and awarded Berg no monetary damages. Nonetheless, her lawsuit has spurred other women to come forward and seek to hold talcum powder manufacturers, including J&J, responsible for their ovarian cancer diagnoses.
Have you or a loved one used talcum powder products and been diagnosed with ovarian cancer? Talk to the personal injury team at Sokolove Law to find out if a product liability lawyer can help you. Start your free legal consultation now, by calling or submitting the form to the right.
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Shower to Shower® is a registered trademark of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. Johnson & Johnson sold the Shower to Shower product line to Valeant in 2012.