Last month, a jury found pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson guilty of neglecting to warn consumers that its talcum powder products increased women’s risk for developing ovarian cancer and held the company liable for plaintiff Jacqueline Fox’s ovarian cancer death.
In light of the $72 million verdict in that case and the extensive media coverage that has followed, NY Daily News has had Dr. David Samadi answer the question for their readers: “Is baby powder something to be avoided? Or are these headlines unwarranted and over-exaggerated?”
He says that talcum powder can be added to the list of known risk factors for ovarian cancer, which includes age, obesity, family history and a personal history of breast cancer. He reveals that both The International Agency for Research on Cancer and The American Cancer Society acknowledge that studies have shown that there is a probable small to moderate ovarian cancer risk associated with talcum powder when used for feminine hygiene.
These studies began in the 1970s during the same time that the link between asbestos exposure and lung cancer was being discovered. When cosmetic talc became asbestos-free, studies continued to show a link between talc itself and an increased risk for developing ovarian cancer. Current studies are still providing more evidence.
Just a week after the Johnson & Johnson verdict a new study was published in the medical journal Epidemiology that interviewed 2,041 women with ovarian cancer and 2,011 without the disease and found women who used talc regularly for feminine hygiene to have a 33 percent higher risk of ovarian cancer.
In the NY Daily News article Dr. Samadi points out that even if it is only a small to moderate increased risk, it is a risk that can be avoided when most cancers are not preventable and most other ovarian cancer risks are unavoidable. He says that avoiding using baby powder for feminine hygiene “would seem like a prudent policy.”
It is an easily avoidable risk factor for the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths in women, one difficult to diagnose early with symptoms such as bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, trouble eating or feeling full quickly, and urinary symptoms like urgency and frequency, which are easy to ignore or misdiagnose.
It is because of all the media attention given to the J&J court case that women have the chance now to choose what is prudent and to read information such as what has been presented in the NY Daily News article and many similar ones. It is not thanks to Johnson and Johnson, which has known for years about the increased risk that the women using its talcum products for feminine hygiene were taking. The company chose to hide this information from the public instead of putting warning labels on their products so that consumers could make informed decisions.
They made this choice even after losing a product liability lawsuit in 2013 over this exact same subject, and even after their own medical consultants warned them of the risk. It was this evidence that led the jury to reach such a drastic decision that brought so much attention to the subject that it was finally heard.
Join The Fight!
Let your voice be heard and sign the petition to ask Johnson & Johnson to release the internal documents revealing the link between talcum powder and cancer. A St. Louis jury has seen the evidence, which ultimately led them to award a $72 million verdict. Hundreds have signed, but we need thousands – tens of thousands – of signatures to get the industry’s attention. So, please take a brief moment and do something that can change lives forever. Please sign and share the petition with your friends and colleagues, and say to J&J, #TellTheTalcTruth!