Is talc bad for you? That depends. Although there are several talc dangers, including talc that contains asbestos that is inhaled by miners, the subject of the current talcum powder cancer lawsuit is its use by women over a period of years that could have resulted in their having ovarian cancer.
Talc is a mineral made of magnesium, silicon and oxygen. It’s used for its absorbent properties because it can reduce friction and moisture, which helps keep skin dry and free of rashes. That’s why it’s long been used to treat diaper rash on babies and in various adult face and body powder products. Asbestos has not been in home-consumer talcum products since the 1970s. Therefore, there are different concerns with respect to when is talc bad for you, depending on how it is used.
The concerns about talc and cancer include breathable talc fibers, which can be inhaled by people, such as talc miners, who are exposed at work. The other major health concern about talc is for women who use it regularly in the genital area, because it has been shown to increase the risk of ovarian cancer when used that way, and this is the subject of the Johnson & Johnson baby powder lawsuit.
In any widespread concern about a potential carcinogen, it’s important to know who did the studies and how they were performed. The American Cancer Society cites studies by organizations that include the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization and the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP), which is part of agencies that include the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Talc has been subject to both lab and human studies. Lab studies show mixed results as to whether or not talc has caused cancers in rats, mice and hamsters.
Rather than specifically exposing people to risk, human studies usually will be performed by tracking rates of illness in various groups of people. For example, a study might follow people exposed to a potential harm over a period of years, along with people who have not been exposed to the same thing, and then track rates of illness or effects. However, because a lot of factors could influence the results of these studies (some of which might be hard to quantify, such as genetics or lifestyle habits), it’s more difficult to get strong results.
Studies on talc dangers have shown that talcum powder could cause ovarian cancer if the particles traveled through the vagina, uterus and fallopian tubes to the ovaries. This could happen when powder is applied to the genital area directly, or on sanitary napkins, diaphragms or condoms. Still, the results are not absolute. Some studies have shown an increase in ovarian cancer when talc enters the body by this manner, and other studies show no increase at all. Because talc is so widely used in personal care products, studies continue to find a better assessment of the risk.
Talc cancers could also be a risk for talc miners and millers because they are exposed to inhalation talc on a regular basis. Unlike home products, talc in its natural form can contain asbestos. There has not been a reported risk of lung cancer linked to talcum powder in cosmetics or other home uses. And, while there have been studies suggesting that talc could be related to certain risks of endometrial, stomach, or other cancers, these links have not been found in subsequent studies. There is no strong evidence of these links based on current research.
A Johnson & Johnson baby powder lawsuit has been initiated as a class action. The company began making talcum powder (commonly known as baby powder) over 100 years ago when it was discovered that the substance is effective for absorbing odor and moisture, and that it could help soothe diaper rash. A generation of women began to use it regularly in their underwear or genital area for freshening purposes. In the early 1970s, however, studies began to emerge that linked ovarian cancer to talc. Dangers were based upon findings that of 13 ovarian tumors, talc particles were found in 10. This led to additional studies that were brought to the attention of executives at Johnson & Johnson. Baby powder lawsuit filings had not yet begun, but the company was made aware that its product could be causing harm. Johnson & Johnson maintained that the only talc dangers were from inhalation. The company continued to manufacture and sell talc-based baby powder and declined to issue warnings to consumers about the potential for health hazards.
Several other companies have introduced products that offer alternatives in response to concern about talc dangers. Gold Bond, California Baby and Burt’s Bees all offer cornstarch-based, talc-free baby powder. The American Cancer Society has been saying since 1999 that women should use cornstarch rather than talc for genital-area freshness if they wish to use a powder.
A woman in the U.S. has a 1 in 70 chance of having ovarian cancer. Studies show that women who have used talc have a 1 in 53 percent chance. If you are a woman who has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and if you have regularly used talcum powder (or “baby powder”) in your genital area, you might be eligible to join a class action talcum powder cancer lawsuit.
The science as to whether talc is bad for you continues to evolve, but at issue in the Johnson & Johnson baby powder lawsuit is the fact that the company knew that there were studies that showed the possibility of harm from baby powder, and it continued to market and sell the product in the same form, while denying that there were any talc dangers.
The experienced attorneys at McIntyre Law, P.C. are working with women and their families who have been affected by talc. Even if you used baby powder decades ago, you could be experiencing its effects today. If that’s you, contacting our team to inquire about a talcum powder cancer lawsuit could be the most important thing you do today. The Johnson & Johnson baby powder lawsuit could force one of the biggest U.S. companies in history to respond to those consumers who it hurt most — if you’re one of them, we need to talk. Contact McIntyre Law today for a free consultation.