Johnson & Johnson has known for decades that tiny particles such as those in talcum powder can travel through the vagina, up the fallopian tubes and become deeply embedded within the tissue of ovaries where it can trigger abnormal cell growth leading to ovarian cancer. Yet the consumer health care giant refused to warn users of its Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products and even marketed it for use in the genital area for personal hygiene, Beasley Allen attorney Ted Meadows said at the firm’s annual legal conference in November.
“How do we know talcum powder causes ovarian cancer,” he asked. “More than 20 epidemiologic studies support an association between talcum powder use in the genital area and ovarian cancer.”
At least one study found that premenopausal women who regularly used talcum powder on their genitals over a five-year period were at far greater risk of developing invasive serous cancer – by far the most common type of ovarian cancer – than women who did not use the powder.
Harvard University’s Dr. Daniel Cramer has dedicated more than 30 years to researching the link between genital use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer. In 1982, he published the results from a case-control study showing that long-term and frequent use of talcum powder for personal hygiene greatly increased a woman’s risk of developing the deadly disease.
Johnson & Johnson challenged the study. Cramer responded by saying that the company owed it to women to either pull their talc-containing products from the market or warn women of this risk on the products’ labels.
Cramer wasn’t the only one urging Johnson & Johnson to warm women of the risks with genital use of talcum powder. In 1994, the Cancer Prevention Coalition said that “women have the unarguable right to know of this information,” and urged “Johnson & Johnson to label its talcum powder products with information about the ovarian cancer risk they pose.”
Cramer testified as an expert witness in a lawsuit in which a woman claimed regular use of Johnson & Johnson’s Shower to Shower body powder caused her to develop ovarian cancer. He told jurors that according to his analysis, as many as 10 percent of ovarian cancer cases could be attributed to use of talcum powder. Jurors found in favor of the woman, and agreed that Johnson & Johnson should have warned women of this risk.
Attorneys with Beasley Allen Law Firm have filed about 300 ovarian cancer lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson and manufacturers of other talcum powder products. Women who used these products regularly and developed ovarian cancer are encouraged to consult with an attorney as they may be entitled to compensation.
Source: Righting Injustice