Shock, Anger, a Desire to Protect the Public is what motivated jurors to award 72 million dollars in February of 2015 and then 55 million dollars in May of 2016 to families of women who had died from ovarian cancer after using Johnson and Johnson products.
Research suggests that for decades Johnson & Johnson knew or should have known about a link between the use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer, but did nothing to neither warn users of the risk nor effectively change the product to make it safe for women
There are currently about 1,200 talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits pending, and additional victims are still coming forward. Evidence indicates that these powders when used for feminine hygiene caused at least 2200 new cases of ovarian cancer each year. Also what is extremely disturbing is that internal documents show the manufacturer targeted African American women for their cancer causing product. The lawsuits are aimed at manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. The most notable Johnson and Johnson products are J&J’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower.
Lawsuits Allege J&J Knew of Talc’s Ovarian Cancer Risk
According to the lawsuits, many women and their families believe their long-term talc powder use played a role in causing them to develop ovarian cancer. There have been several studies that have found an increased risk of ovarian cancer among women who apply talc-containing powder to their genital area. Some experts have concluded that talc applied to a woman’s genital area may enter the vagina and uterus, and migrate to the fallopian tubes and ovaries, causing cancer.
The lawsuits also allege that Johnson & Johnson was aware of research that indicated using this powder on the genital area could increase risk of ovarian cancer, but did not warn users. Internal company documents show that company executives were aware of these studies as far back as the 1970s.
The Talcum Powder & Ovarian Cancer Association: A Timeline
Below is a timeline of Johnson & Johnson’s talc products, medical research about its potential to cause adverse health events like cancer, and court rulings on related lawsuits.
1892 to 1894
In 1892, upon hearing complaints of itching associated with its medical plasters, Dr. Fred Kilmer, Scientific Director of J&J, sends patients Italian talc to treat the itch. This led to the introduction of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder in 1893. It went to market in 1894.
J&J Kilmer House
An evaluation of 22 talcum products for fibrous material found the products contained 8 to 30% fiber content, with an average of 19%.
Cralley et al., American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal, 1968
Examination of tissue taken from patients with ovarian and cervical tumors found talc particles deeply embedded in the tumors.
Henderson et al., BCOJ, 1971
Another evaluation of consumer talcum powder products for fibrous materials found that many contained mixtures of various minerals. The researchers wrote that the health effects of the products were unknown, warranting further study.
Rohl et al., Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, 1976
A Harvard case-control study found that use of talcum powder on the genital area – by dusting on the perineum or dusting sanitary napkins – increased risk of ovarian cancer by 92% compared to women who did not use talcum powder. Women who had both exposures had an increased risk of 228%. This was the first study to find a statistical correlation between talc and ovarian cancer.
Cramer et al., Cancer, 1982
Study author Dr. Daniel Cramer later stated in a court filing that Dr. Bruce Semple of Johnson & Johnson contacted him about his study. He said that Dr. Semple tried to convince him of talc’s safety, but Dr. Cramer urged warning women of the potential risk. He went on to state that he was aware of 21 other epidemiological studies published between 1983 and 2009, most of which found an association between ovarian cancer and talc.
Prepared statement by Dr. Cramer, 2011
J&J and other companies joined the Talc Interested Parties Task Force (TIPTF) to pay “scientists to perform biased research regarding the safety of talc,” according to one lawsuit.
Hogan et al. v. Johnson & Johnson et al., Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri, No. 1422-CC09012
A Johns Hopkins hospital-based case-control study found that women who applied talc to sanitary napkins were at a 379% increased risk of ovarian cancer.
Rosenblatt et al., Gynecologic Oncology, 1992
Two physicians published a letter in JAMA that warns of the possible risk posed to women by talcum powder on condoms, citing research that found associations between talc and ovarian cancer. Condom manufacturers have since stopped using talc on condoms.
Kasper et al., JAMA, 1995
International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified genital use of talc as possibly carcinogenic.
Baan et al., Lancet Oncology, 2006
Meta-analysis of 20 case-control studies found a 35% higher risk of ovarian cancer among those who use talcum powder products in the genital area compared to those who do not.
Langseth et al., Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2008
The Gates Study found a dose-response relationship between increasing frequency of genital talc use and ovarian cancer risk.
Gates et al., Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, 2008
Dr. Cramer published another study, finding a 33% increase in ovarian cancer risk among regular talc users. Use of talc on non-genital areas was not associated with an increased risk.
Cramer et al., Epidemiology, 2016
How have previous courts ruled?
A St. Louis jury awarded the family of an Alabama woman $72 million in February of 2015. She passed away after a fight with ovarian cancer.
Another jury in St. Louis handed down a May 2016 ruling awarding the victim $55 million to cover her damages.
What if I think I have a case?
If you believe that your use of Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products caused your ovarian cancer, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit for compensation. Give the Law Offices of Cullan & Cullan M.D., J.D. a call. We are doctors and lawyers, giving us the unique education and training to help clients who have been injured.
It takes a team to fight powerful corporations. Our Kansas City talcum powder-ovarian cancer lawsuit attorneys are working with some of the country’s leading law firms to fight for justice on behalf of women who have ovarian cancer or on behalf of families who have lost a loved one due to ovarian cancer.
If you believe you have suffered injury due to the use of talcum powder, contact us today at 816-861-7600 to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
21 other studies referenced by Dr. Cramer:
Hartge P, Hoover R, Lesher LP, McGowan L. Talc and ovarian cancer. JAMA. 1983;250(14):1844.
Whittemore AS, Wu ML, Paffenbarger RS, Jr., et al. Personal and environmental characteristics related to epithelial ovarian cancer. II. Exposures to talcum powder, tobacco, alcohol, and coffee. Am J Epidemiol. 1988;128(6):1228-1240.
Booth M, Beral V, Smith P. Risk factors for ovarian cancer: a case-control study. Br J Cancer. 1989;60(4):592-598.
Harlow BL, Weiss NS. A case-control study of borderline ovarian tumors: the influence of perineal exposure to talc. Am J Epidemiol. 1989;130(2):390-394.
Harlow BL, Cramer DW, Bell DA, Welch WR. Perineal exposure to talc and ovarian cancer risk. Obstet Gynecol. 1992;80(1):19-26.
Rosenblatt KA, Szklo M, Rosenshein NB. Mineral fiber exposure and the development of ovarian cancer. Gynecol Oncol. 1992;45(1):20-25.
Chen Y, Wu PC, Lang JH, Ge WJ, Hartge P, Brinton LA. Risk factors for epithelial ovarian cancer in Beijing, China. Int J Epidemiol. 1992;21(1):23-29.
Tzonou A, Polychronopoulou A, Hsieh CC, Rebelakos A, Karakatsani A, Trichopoulos D. Hair dyes, analgesics, tranquilizers and perineal talc application as risk factors for ovarian cancer. Int J Cancer. 1993;55(3):408-410.
Purdie D, Green A, Bain C, et al. Reproductive and other factors and risk of epithelial ovarian cancer: an Australian case-control study. Survey of Women’s Health Study Group. Int J Cancer. 1995;62(6):678-684.
Shushan A, Paltiel O, Iscovich J, Elchalal U, Peretz T, Schenker JG. Human menopausal gonadotropin and the risk of epithelial ovarian cancer. Fertil Steril. 1996;65(1):13-18.
Cook LS, Kamb ML, Weiss NS. Perineal powder exposure and the risk of ovarian cancer. Am J Epidemiol. 1997;145(5):459-465.
Chang S, Risch HA. Perineal talc exposure and risk of ovarian carcinoma. Cancer. 1997;79(12):2396-2401.
Godard B, Foulkes WD, Provencher D, et al. Risk factors for familial and sporadic ovarian cancer among French Canadians: a case-control study. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1998;179(2):403-410.
Cramer DW, Liberman RF, Titus-Ernstoff L, et al. Genital talc exposure and risk of ovarian cancer. Int J Cancer. 1999;81(3):351-356.
Wong C, Hempling RE, Piver MS, Natarajan N, Mettlin CJ. Perineal talc exposure and subsequent epithelial ovarian cancer: a case-control study. Obstet Gynecol. 1999;93(3):372-376.
Ness RB, Grisso JA, Cottreau C, et al. Factors related to inflammation of the ovarian epithelium and risk of ovarian cancer. Epidemiology. 2000;11(2):111-117.
Gertig DM, Hunter DJ, Cramer DW, et al. Prospective study of talc use and ovarian cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2000;92(3):249-252.
Mills PK, Riordan DG, Cress RD, Young HA. Perineal talc exposure and epithelial ovarian cancer risk in the Central Valley of California. Int J Cancer. 2004;112(3):458-464.
Gates MA, Tworoger SS, Terry KL, et al. Talc use, variants of the GSTM1, GSTT1, and NAT2 genes, and risk of epithelial ovarian cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008;17(9):2436-2444.
Merritt MA, Green AC, Nagle CM, Webb PM. Talcum powder, chronic pelvic inflammation and NSAIDs in relation to risk of epithelial ovarian cancer. Int J Cancer. 2008;122(1):170-176.
Wu AH, Pearce CL, Tseng CC, Templeman C, Pike MC. Markers of inflammation and risk of ovarian cancer in Los Angeles County. Int J Cancer. 2009;124(6):1409-1415.