About Talcum Powder
For years talcum powder has been a personal-hygiene and cosmetic staple in many homes across America, often appearing on babies’ changing tables and in women’s cosmetics bags as facial powder, blush or other beauty products. Baby powder, for example, is commonly made from talc, a soft mineral composed of magnesium, silicon and oxygen, which absorbs moisture well and reduces friction; talcum powder helps prevent rashes on babies’ bottoms and is used in a number of feminine care products, too. Even basketball players will sometimes use baby powder to keep their sweaty hands dry in a game.
While talc is used most commonly in hygiene and cosmetics products (as talcum powder), the mineral has historically been utilized in many industries. Talc’s resistance to heat, electricity and acids makes it a convenient choice for a wide-ranging number of products and industries.
Talc is used in:
- Paint and coatings
- Food, including some chewing gums
Side effects of talcum powder and link to cancer
Now more and more research into the side effects of talcum powder indicates that this seemingly innocuous, widely used staple thought to be a calming agent on skin is actually causing alarming side effects—among them, ovarian, lung and other cancers.
Talcum powder and ovarian cancer—causes, litigation
Findings from 16 previous studies (conducted prior to 2003) have concluded that there is at least a 30% increase in the risk of ovarian cancer among talcum users.
Women using talcum powder for perineal hygiene are especially at risk. A Harvard epidemiologist has stated that as many as 10,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year at least in part because of their baby powder use.
Medical researchers studying the alleged link between talc and ovarian cancer for more than 40 years now suspect that talc particles traveling through the female reproductive system can cause prolonged inflammation of the ovaries, which in turn can give rise to the growth of ovarian cancer cells. Particle entry can happen any time talcum powder comes in contact with the genital area, on sanitary napkins, diaphragms, or condoms, for example, or in the form of a feminine product applied to the vaginal area.
Each year, some 20,000 women will receive an ovarian cancer diagnosis. Though ovarian cancer accounts for only 3% of cancers, it is one of the most lethal: it causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.
Johnson & Johnson is facing more than 1,200 claims involving talc-related cancer, and has lost two of the first two trials held in Missouri state court, where much of the litigation is centralized. The first trial resulted in a $72 million verdict and the second case, which concluded on May 2, 2016, ended in a $55 million verdict. Both plaintiffs had developed ovarian cancer after using J&J’s talc products for feminine hygiene purposes.
Talcum and lung cancer
Talc miners and millers may also be at greater risk of contracting cancer, in this case lung cancer, and other respiratory diseases. Some studies suggest a link between underground talc—which in its natural, original form may contain varying amounts of asbestos and other minerals—and cancer in the lungs.
While talc’s links to other cancers such as endometrial cancer are less explored and thus less known, one recent study has suggested that at least for women at an age past menopause, risks for uterine or endometrial cancer rise with the use of genitally applied talcum powder.
FDA and other talc-related warnings
Under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), cosmetic products and ingredients, with the exception of color additives, do not have to undergo review or approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before they go on the market.
In a statement on its website responding to concerns about talc, especially insofar as older, pre-1970’s versions of talc once contained the identified carcinogen asbestos, the FDA has provided a list of cosmetics products containing talc. The FDA also has explained that more scientific data will be required to determine if such products are harmful to public health and require more restrictions. In the meantime, products containing talc, including Johnson & Johnson “Shower to Shower” baby powder, remain on the market.
Cosmetics and baby powder products containing potentially carcinogenic talcum powder
Over-the-counter cosmetic products containing talcum powder include the following:
- Maybelline New York Expert Wear Blush
- N.Y.C. New York Color Cheek Glow Powder Blush
- NARS Blush
- Physician’s Formula Shimmer Strips Custom Eye Enhancing Shadow & Liner
- Black Radiance Eyeshadow Quartet
- Stilla Eye Shadow Trio
- Dior 5-Colour Iridescent Eyeshadow
- Black Opal True Color Liquid Foundation
- Laura Mercier Foundation Powder
- LA Colors Pressed Powder
- Revlon Color Stay Pressed Powder
- Cover Girl TruBlend Mineral Loose Mineral Powder
- Physician’s Formula Summer Eclipse Bronzing & Shimmery Face Powder
- Wet n’ Wild Bronzer
- Iman Luxury Pressed Powder
- Coty Air Spun Loose Face Powder
- Black Opal Color Fusion Powder
- Black Radiance Pressed Powder
- Posner Finishing Touch Pressed Powder
- N.Y.C. New York Color Loose Face Powder
- Almay Nearly Naked Loose Powder
- Clinique Stay Matte Sheer Pressed Powder
- BeneFit Hello Flawless Custom Powder Cover-Up for Face SPF 15
- Smashbox Fusion Soft Lights Intermix Pressed Powder
- Guerlain Meteorites Poudre de Perles Illuminating Perfecting Pressed Powder
- Urban Decay Baked Bronzer
Baby powder products containing talc include:
- Johnson’s Baby Powder
- CVS Brand Baby Powder
- Rite Aid Baby Powder
- Anti Monkey Butt Powder
- Assured Shower & Bath Absorbent Body Powder
- Angel of Mine Baby Powder
- Family Dollar Mild Baby Powder
- Shower to Shower Morning Fresh Absorbent Body Powder
Meanwhile, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a body of the World Health Organization, has classified talc-based body powder as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” based on studies of genital use.
Talcum powder lawyers are currently reviewing cases of injured women to determine their eligibility for civil litigation.
Talcum powder-related lawsuits
A growing number of talc powder cancer lawsuits is emerging across the United States. They claim the product is dangerous and carcinogenic, especially for women who may use it for feminine hygiene.
One Illinois woman’s recently filed claim is the latest in this string of complaints: Barbara Mihalich is pursuing a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, saying she represents Illinois consumers of Johnson’s Baby Powder in that state.
Mihalich joins a South Dakota woman who sued Johnson & Johnson last fall, alleging Johnson & Johnson’s “Shower to Shower” product caused her ovarian cancer. She won the sympathy of the jury, who awarded her an undisclosed amount as compensation. Small clusters of cases are cropping up in multiple states across America. If you have ovarian cancer and have been an long-time user of a talc-containing product, you may be eligible to file a complaint.
The right product liability lawyer will be able to advise you further of your eligibility and next steps around filing a claim.
- Cancer Research, “Genital powder use and risk of ovarian cancer: a pooled analysis of 8,525 cases and 9,859 controls”, http://cancerpreventionresearch.aacrjournals.org/content/early/2013/06/12/1940-6207.CAPR-13-0037.short
- The Guardian, “Should I stop using talcum powder?,” http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/athome/talcum-powder-and-cancer, http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/jun/23/should-i-stop-using-talcum-powder
- FDA, “Talc,” http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductsIngredients/Ingredients/ucm293184.htm