Baby Powder Cancer Lawsuit: Ovarian Cancer Linked to Talcum powder and Toxic Asbestos exposure in female consumers

UPDATE: Johnson & Johnson has discontinued the sales of talc-based baby powder in North America


A recent verdict in New Jersey highlights a growing legal issue involving Johnson & Johnson powder products that have possibly caused cancer in certain individuals.

A $117 million verdict was levied against Johnson & Johnson and a supplier after a man claimed his asbestos-related cancer was caused by long-term use of J&J’s Baby Powder.

Attorneys say there are thousands of similar cases in which J&J’s widely-used baby powder products have been called into question. Baby powder and talc are still used daily, and not may products have been recalled. Thus, the cancer risks are still present.

There are currently tens of thousands of cases claiming Johnson & Johnson baby powder and Shower to Shower products directly cause ovarian cancer because the talc may contain asbestos—a toxic substance that is known to cause mesothelioma cancer in people exposed for some duration of time.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Cincinnati, Ohio product liability attorney, experienced in litigating mesothelioma and baby powder cancer lawsuit cases nationwide.

The Lyon Firm has experience in filing toxic exposure and product liability lawsuits against large American corporations. Contact Joe Lyon for a free consult and to discuss your legal options. 


Ovarian Cancer Lawsuits


Ovarian cancer, according to experts, may be caused by the use of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder products. Current litigation highlights the risks of using talcum powders in the genital areas for extended periods of time. Cancer settlements in Ohio and other states are likely if a plaintiff used talc products for many years and then developed ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women. This accounts for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. Scientists have studied the relationship between cancer and talcum powder since the 1980’s and have found significant correlation which indicates that genital talcum powder use increases the risk of ovarian cancer by 30%.

Several juries have concluded that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn that their popular baby powder and feminine hygiene products were linked to an increased ovarian cancer risk.

Talc is a common industrial and personal use mineral that sits on the shelves of most American homes in some form of talcum powder. Because talc is exceptionally absorbent it is frequently used in cosmetic and antiperspirant products like baby powder, color cosmetics, toothpastes, antiperspirant deodorant, and makeup.

Yet, though talc has been used for over a hundred years scientists are now discovering that some of its applications can cause ovarian cancer in humans. Within the past 5 years two plaintiffs have won cases against Johnson & Johnson on the grounds that their products increase user’s risks of developing ovarian cancer. Medical studies have found strong, statistically significant relationships between genital talc usage and an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

Yet, despite studies which showed the increased risk of cancer associated with genital talc usage and understanding that their product was potentially dangerous, Johnson & Johnson did not take any action to notify consumers.

In fact, in an internal memo from a J & J consultant, the company was made aware that independent researchers had established a real, statistically significant association between talc usage and ovarian cancer. A new criminal investigation is underway that claims the company intentionally lied to consumers about the ovarian cancer risk of its products.

In light of such shocking findings, two separate juries found J&J guilty of negligence for failing to warn consumers of the risk of ovarian cancer associated with their products. At the time of publication around 19,000 cases have been filed against Johnson & Johnson regarding talc use and ovarian cancer.


Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors


Ovarian cancer mainly develops in older women. In fact, the risk of developing any cancer gets higher with age. Most ovarian cancers develop after menopause and is rare in women younger than 40. About half the women diagnosed are 63 years or older.  It is more common in white women than African-American women.

Medical experts will say that some people are more predisposed to certain kinds of cancer, though ovarian cancer is generally not high on that list of genetic predisposition. The most common ovarian cancer risk factors may include:

  • Obesity—obese women (those with a body mass index of at least 30) have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.
  • Fertility drugs—researchers have found that using fertility drugs may increase the risk for developing ovarian tumors.
  • Talcum powder—talc applied directly to the genital area or on sanitary napkins may cause cancer. The longer the duration of talc exposure, the higher the risks for cancer development.
  • Family history—cancer risk is increased if your mother, sister, or daughter has also had the disease.
  • Breast cancer—a personal history with breast cancer may increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
  • Late pregnancy—women who have their first full-term pregnancy after age 35 or who never carried a pregnancy to term have a higher risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Estrogen or hormone therapy

Asbestos in J&J Products


Settlements this year have been very lucrative for plaintiffs, and it is unlikely that Johnson and Johnson will be able to try every talc cancer case. Settlements are likely in coming months or years. Victims are encouraged to come forward to seek their rightful compensation.

Lawyers involved in J&J baby power cancer lawsuit claims that internal company documents disclosed in a recent trial show that at some point baby powder had been contaminated with asbestos.

This information is pertinent in upcoming ovarian cancer trials in arguing that the company knew of asbestos contamination. Reportedly, the talc in J&J baby powder was contaminated by asbestos during the mining process.

Asbestos has been known since the 1970’s to cause cancer. The World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have published a series of warnings that suggest even a small amount of asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma, lung cancer and other cancers.


Is Talcum Powder Dangerous?


The short answer is, yes. But medical experts have time and again reviewed patient data that has linked ovarian cancer to the use of talcum products in the genital region. As a result, Johnson & Johnson is under criminal investigation for charges related to withholding information from consumers for may years.

Talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral primarily composed of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. As a powder, it absorbs moisture, helping keep skin dry and preventing rashes. It is widely used in cosmetic products such as baby powder and adult body powders.

Some talc, in its natural form, contains asbestos, a substance known to cause cancers in and around the lungs. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), classifies talc that contains asbestos as “carcinogenic to humans.” There is no safe level of asbestos exposure, according to health and safety experts.

Even though this type of talc is not used in modern consumer products, questions remain about the exposure to talcum in any form. Based on evidence from human studies, the IARC classifies the genital use of talc-based body powder as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” Cancer rates and lawsuits suggest the risk is more than possible.


Talcum Powder Studies


Dozens of published studies show that women who use talc powder like Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder product, have a 20 to 30 percent increased risk of developing a type of ovarian cancer.

In 1971 British researchers found talc particles “deeply embedded” in a high percentage of observed ovarian tumors. Once the scientific community realized that there might be a relationship between genital talc use and ovarian cancer researchers began to epidemiologically study the issue. Epidemiological studies examine the causes of diseases and the populations of individuals likely to have those diseases through surveys and analytics.

In 1982 the first published population study  was performed by group of doctors on behalf of the American Cancer Society. From 1982 to 1999 eleven more studies observed the relationship between talc use and ovarian cancer. Of those eleven studies, eight found a statistically significant association between talc and ovarian cancer which indicates that talc use increases the odds of ovarian cancer.

The three studies that did not find a significant increase in risk used smaller populations and reported a null result. In 1999 the International Journal of Cancer reported a finding, “there is a significant association between the use of talc in genital hygiene and risk of epithelial ovarian cancer that, when viewed in perspective of published data on this association, warrants more formal public health warnings.”

A study published in the medical journal Epidemiology analyzed the use of talc in over 4,000 women with and without ovarian cancer. The researchers found talcum powder use in the genital region may increase a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer significantly, especially when talc powder is used on a daily basis.

The American Cancer Society says before all the evidence can be clear about the cancer risks, it may be best to avoid or limit use of products containing talc. In front of Congress, a researcher at the University of Washington said she has reviewed the science linking the use of talc, identifying 38 epidemiological studies in the past 40 years that concluded using talc added increased risk of developing epithelial ovarian cancer.


Is There Asbestos in Talcum Powder?


While the link between asbestos and mesothelioma is long-established, experts have only recently tasked with deciding whether asbestos exposure can cause ovarian cancer.

Some studies have shown an association between the two, while other studies have found no such link. Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer almost exclusively linked to asbestos exposure, whereas ovarian cancer can be linked to various causes.

About 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year, according to the American Cancer Society. There were 22,000 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer last year, according to the National Cancer Institute. Estimates say thousands more women could still be diagnosed with ovarian cancer due long-term use of baby powder in the genital region.

J&J has been inundated with lawsuits and many close to the company suggest they expect to pay millions in talcum settlements over the next several years. Thousands of women are still at ovarian cancer risk after using baby powder products in the genital region for an extended period of time.


Baby Powder Cancer Claims


J&J is now under criminal investigation for concealing the health risks of their baby powder products for decades. Attorneys say the company lied to the public about the safety of baby powder to increase their bottom line profit at the cost of thousands of consumers who later developed ovarian cancer.

Johnson & Johnson is a huge litigation target, primarily because the company manufactures and distributes a large line of health-related products. Exposure to talcum powder is simply a matter of degree for most people. Because of how widely used baby powder and other talc products are used, consumers deserve extensive testing of the products in question.


Ovarian Cancer Lawsuits


In 2018, a St. Louis City jury awarded 22 plaintiffs $550 million in damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages in a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson over talcum powder ovarian cancer cases. That verdict was crucial in all future talc cancer litigation, as it was the first multi-plaintiff talcum powder litigation decided in the United States.

The American Cancer Society predicts over 14,000 ovarian cancer deaths annually. There may be a number of causes, and toxic exposure can be added to that list. Talcum powder has been used by so many, and only recently have consumers thought twice about using it. A growing body of evidence links talc use to cancer. Much of the evidence is based on consumer usage rather than laboratory studies.

Several cosmetic talc products have been questioned, including dusting powder, baby powder, bath talc, and others. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reviewed asbestos reports, but does not have the ability to test every cosmetic product.

Attorneys allege that Johnson & Johnson performed certain quality assurance tests on its talc, and that some samples tested positive for asbestos. Tests performed between 1970–2000 indicated that some samples might have contained trace elements of asbestos. Thus, the Department of Justice subpoenaed Johnson & Johnson for internal company documents about its knowledge of talc asbestos risks.


Talcum Powder Cancer Lawyer


If you have been diagnosed with cancer after many years of baby powder use, you may have a valuable claim against Johnson & Johnson or another talc product manufacturer. The Lyon Firm specializes in toxic exposure lawsuits and product safety cases, and seeks the maximum compensation for injured plaintiffs.

Successful talc cancer cases have been tried in the last couple of years on the basis of a cancer diagnosis that followed extensive use of baby powder or talcum powder in the genital area. Plaintiffs were able to convince juries of a causation with evidence of both a dangerous product and a severe health consequence.

Johnson & Johnson appeals all lawsuits based on little scientific evidence that their product is safe. Is talcum powder the sole reason for ovarian cancer in the United States? No, but attorneys have argued that “contaminated” talc could have potentially caused cancer, just as other asbestos exposure has led to the diagnosis of thousands of cases of cancer in the past.

Corporations must be held accountable for their negligence when consumers are injured, and The Lyon Firm ensures that legal pressure will be applied for the betterment of the consumer.


If you or a loved one has suffered ovarian cancer after using talcum or baby powder, and have questions about the legal remedies available to improve quality of life and medical care in Ohio, contact The Lyon Firm at (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, and he will help you answer critical questions regarding a potential talcum powder lawsuit.