Does Talc Powder Cause Cancer?

Several lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson alleged that the use of talc powder in a daily hygiene routine could lead to cancer. In fact, in August of 2017, a Los Angeles jury decided a $417 million case in favor of a woman who developed cancer after using baby powder for several decades.

Investigating the Cause
Given this concern, what evidence do we actually have that proves talc powder can cause cancer, as well as other health concerns? Does talc powder cause cancer? Is Johnson & Johnson responsible for their product liability if there has been no conclusive evidence that talc powder can result in diverse types of cancer?
The Study So Far
Few studies have been done to show whether baby powder is responsible for cancer of the ovaries, or other reproductive cancers. So far, the only research that links talc powder to cancer was done in 1976, where talc particles were found embedded in ovarian and cervical tumors of a patient.
Asbestos and Other Carcinogens
However, test results from a 1976 study on 20 talc-based products found traces of two types of asbestos. Furthermore, this suggests that talc may not be dangerous and other trace minerals found within the talc may be liable as the carcinogen. Asbestos is well-known as a cancer-causing agent that has been linked to mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the lungs.
Asbestos-Free Claims
Since the 1976 study was conducted, the Personal Care Products Council required all cosmetic talc products to be completely free from asbestos. Johnson & Johnson committed to that regulation and today claims that all their talc products are confirmed to be asbestos-free from regular testing since the 1970s regulations came into effect.
The Evidence
The first evidence for talc-linked cancer was published in the research journal Cancer in 1982. Dr. Daniel Cramer authored the paper and soon after, he was visited by a representative of Johnson & Johnson who tried to convince him that using talc products was harmless.



Cramer’s Continued Cancer Study
Cramer went on to publish another report in 1999 with several co-authors, stating that talc could be the cause for up to 10% of ovarian cancers in the US. That rise equals about 2,000 new cases a year. The study suggested that using talc powder for genital hygiene was not worth the risk and suggested Johnson & Johnson apply warnings to their products about the risks of using talc powder on the genital area.
Consumer-Safety Warning
The Cancer Prevention Coalition asked the Food and Drug Administration to require this warning in 1994, but the FDA cited a lack of evidence and J&J refused to put the warnings on its products voluntarily. Since then, scientific communities have continued to warn about the use of talc in hygiene products.
Linking Talc to Cancer
In 2005 the US Department of Health and Human Services refused to issue a ruling, stating there was insufficient evidence to link talc to cancer. However, in 2006 the International Agency for Research on Cancer decided to classify talc as a 2B agent or “possibly carcinogenic to human beings.” Furthermore, the IARC claims a positive association with cancer has been observed and cannot be ruled out with reasonable confidence.
Liable Parties
Some lawsuits have seen damages awarded to the plaintiff, while others have acknowledged that Johnson & Johnson should have provided a warning but refused to award any damages to the plaintiffs who sued.
Johnson & Johnson continues to defend the safety of talc powder use. The company released a statement last April that featured a nod to a National Cancer Institute report. Such had stated that the evidence between perineal talc exposure and ovarian cancer is not sufficient enough. Thus, the ongoing debate will continue to spark conversation, as well as more studies to solve this matter.
Legal Support for Talc-Cancer Victims
Were you, or someone you love, diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer or Mesothelioma after using Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder? If so, contact our firm immediately. Here, our knowledgeable product liability attorneys will be able to discuss your diagnosis, as well as help you discover what may be the next best option for you to pursue. In the event you’d like to pursue legal action, we can assist litigating your matter in court. During this time, we will defend your rights and interests against the liable party. By doing so, we hope to achieve a worthy settlement and proper recovery options for your product liability matter.


Your free, no-obligation consultation with a knowledgeable Los Angeles Product Liability Attorney regarding your unique situation is available by calling:

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