Concerns around talcum powder have been steadily increasing after a jury in St. Louis ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $72 million to the surviving family members of a woman who died of ovarian cancer and its potential link to the company’s baby powder.
The family of Jacqueline Fox, of Birmingham, Alabama was awarded the sum following testimony that Johnson & Johnson were aware of concerns about a potential link between talcum powder and various cancers that had been raised by health care professionals. In spite of the company’s knowledge of the concerns, the company decided to step up marketing Johnson’s Baby Powder to Hispanic and black consumers anyway.
Before her death, Fox indicated in a deposition that she had been raised on Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and had used it for years in order to “stay fresh and clean.”
A class action lawsuit brought against Johnson & Johnson in 2014 sought damages on behalf of women who did not have cancer but said they should have been informed about the alleged potential health risks surrounding the product.
Also named in the lawsuit but cleared of liability in the matter was Imerys Talc America. Both Johnson & Johnson and Imerys Tal America insist that the product is safe.
While talc which is used in talcum powder is a naturally occurring mineral, comprised of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen and is used to absorb both moisture and odors, it has also been found to at times contain asbestos which has been shown to have a direct link to lung cancer when it is inhaled. Talc is used in a number of products on the market such as cosmetics, paint, paper and products made of rubber. It is most well-known being used in baby powder which is used to treat diaper rash in infants.
There have been numerous legal cases that allege a link between talc and cancer; however Fox’s case is believed to have been the first that has awarded a large cash award for damages. Other cases include that of a woman in South Dakota whose cancer was believed to have been caused at least in part by her use of talcum powder. The jury in that case in 2013 also indicated that Johnson & Johnson should inform consumers of the potential risk of cancer.
While the American Cancer society has indicated that any risks surrounding the use of talcum powder are likely “very small”, consumers may want to either discontinue or avoid using products containing talc until more is known. An alternative to using talc-based powders are those made of corn starch instead. The American Cancer Society also said that cornstarch powders are believed safe and there is no evidence currently that indicate any link between them and any form of cancer.
No one likes to consider that a product that has been as trusted as baby powder has been over the past century could now pose a risk to their health and that of their loved ones. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer or mesothelioma due to their use of talcum powder, contact the law offices of John Foy & Associates.