Talc Ovarian Cancer FAQ

Legal claims have been filed against baby powder manufacturers, alleging baby or talcum powder causes ovarian cancer when used for feminine hygiene purposes. Baby Powder®, also known as talcum powder, is made primarily from talc. Most legal claims allege continued use of baby powder or talcum powder to a woman’s genital region for feminine hygiene purposes.

Do I have a Talc legal claim?

If you or a family member has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after long-term use of Baby Powder® or a talcum powder product for feminine hygiene purposes, you may have a claim. Women at risk are those who applied talc products to their genital region for years. There are studies showing women who use Baby Powder® or a talc-based powder on a weekly basis may face as much as a 33% increased risk of developing ovarian cancer, though research is ongoing. Studies also show women who apply Baby Powder® or a talc-based powder daily may face as much as a 41% increased risk of developing ovarian cancer, though research is ongoing.

What is the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer?

Several studies show using talcum powder, or talc-based products like Baby Powder® or Shower to Shower®, raises the risk of ovarian cancer. Some studies show a 33% to 41% increase in the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

What talc-based products are at issue?

Primarily Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder® and Shower-To-Shower® talcum powder products.

What talcum powder uses lead to ovarian cancer?

Image of OvariesApplying talcum powder to the genital or the perineal area may result in talc particles traveling to the ovaries. Once talc particles reach the ovaries, they cause an inflammatory reaction which may lead to medical complications. This includes proliferation of cells and DNA damage, which may result in the malignant creation or transformation of cells, including ovarian cancer. Talc is poorly soluble in the human body, meaning it does not readily dissolve in the body. This results in talc particles remaining in human tissue for many years.

What is talc?

Talcum powder is made from talc. Talc is a soft mineral deposit comprised of silicon, magnesium, oxygen and hydrogen. Talc is found throughout the United States. Talc is mined, crushed into a fine powder, and impurities are removed. Talc absorbs moisture, discourages rashes, and can be used to keep skin dry. Talcum powder is used in many personal care products.

Talc is a naturally occurring mineral comprised of magnesium, silicon and oxygen. It is mined for a litany of consumer products including many household and industrial purposes. These include food additives, a lubricant and an astringent. Talc is popular for its ability to absorb moisture and reduce friction. This makes it a popular product for preventing diaper rash in babies and treating the vaginal area of women. Talc-based products have been marketed to women for use the treatment of “feminine hygiene” issues as body powder and genital deodorant sprays.

How many ovarian cancers are talc-related?

It is estimated approximately 10% of all ovarian cancer cases are “talc related.” Annually over 25,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, resulting in 15,000 deaths. Some studies estimate as many as 20% of all U.S. women use talc products for feminine hygiene regularly.

I’ve used baby powder and I was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer. What should I do?

Contact us. We can advise you on the appropriate steps to determine whether your Baby Powder® or talcum powder use is connected to your ovarian cancer diagnosis. This will include gathering all relevant medical records, tissue samples, and similar information gathering. We can assist in the process of gathering all the records you will need to evaluate a potential claim, and thereafter pursue litigation if you have a valid claim.

When did product manufacturers know about a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer?

Johnson & Johnson is one of the largest manufacturers of products containing talcum powder including Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder® and Shower to Shower® products. Despite learning as early as 1975 of the link between talc based products and ovarian cancer, J&J not only refused to disclose this risk to the public it began heavily marketing its talc products for use by women for feminine hygiene. Many remember the famous J&J advertising slogan in the 1980s which represented, “Just a sprinkle a day keeps the odor away,” indicating the product was safe for everyday use. In particular, J&J focused on marketing its products to African-American and Hispanic women. Internal documents show J&J was worried as early as 1975 about being “put on notice” of the link between talc and ovarian cancer.

In the intervening years, additional internal documents and evidence discussed the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. For example, a 1997 letter to J&J stated that as early as 1994, “there had been about 9 studies … published in the open literature that did show a statistically significant association between hygienic talc use and ovarian cancer. Anybody who denies this risks that the talc industry will be perceived by the public like it perceives the cigarette industry: denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.”

In 1999, Dr. Daniel Cramer authored a critical study linking ovarian cancer and talc use for genital hygiene purposes, in which Dr. Cramer called for warnings to the general public. Dr. Cramer received a visit from a J&J senior scientist. The J&J scientist spent the meeting attempting to convince Dr. Cramer “talc use was a harmless habit,” whereas Dr. Cramer tried “to persuade him … that women should be advised of this potential risk” according to documents filed in a talcum powder lawsuit against J&J.

I believe my ovarian cancer was caused by talcum powder. What do I need to prove my case?

In any civil lawsuit, it is the plaintiff’s responsibility to first show “general causation,” meaning talc can cause ovarian cancer. More importantly, the plaintiff must show “specific causation,” meaning the plaintiff’s talcum powder use was the cause of their ovarian cancer.

The studies discussed below show the general causation link between talcum products and ovarian cancer. The best way to show specific causation, i.e. whether your talc use caused your ovarian cancer, is to have your tissue samples and pathology reports reviewed by experts to determine whether talc fibers are present. Talc fibers can remain in the body for years after use and may be found in the ovaries, fallopian tubes and pelvic lymph nodes.

Typically, doctors take tissue samples and pathology samples during the process of diagnosing ovarian cancer. Therefore, it is likely the information needed to make this determination can be found in your medical records and from the tissue and pathology records of the diagnosing physician or hospital.

If I have a case, do I pay my legal costs up front?

No. Doyle Lowther product liability attorneys will review your case free of charge. If we determine you have a potentially viable claim, we will represent you on a contingency basis wherein we pay all costs. Only if we recover on your behalf are these costs repaid from a settlement or verdict in your favor. If we are unable to successfully prosecute your case, you owe us nothing.

How much time do I have to file a lawsuit?

You ordinarily must file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires. This time period depends on the jurisdiction in which you reside, and the particular facts of your case. Generally, each state has a two- to three-year statute of limitation in which to file claims.

Ideally, your claim should be filed within two or three years of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, or, if the ovarian cancer caused death, within two to three-years of death. Your case’s particular facts may allow filing a case even if the ovarian cancer diagnosis, or death, occurred beyond a two- to three-year period. Thus, even if you are well beyond this time period, you should immediately discuss this with an attorney.

What studies link talc or talcum powder to ovarian cancer?

The first study finding a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer appeared in 1971. Since then several scientific studies that have appeared in prestigious medical journals such as Cancer, The Lancet and Oncology have made similar findings. Some of the more significant studies include:

• 1971: an article titled “Talc and Carcinoma of the Ovary and Cervix” appeared in The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the British Commonwealth. Inspecting tissue samples in women diagnosed with ovarian cancer found a high percentage had talc particles in their ovaries.

• 1970s: a study in the prestigious journal The Lancet finding a link between talc powder genital use and ovarian cancer notes the “potentially harmful effects of talc … in the ovary … should not be ignored.”

• 1992: a study published in The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found women who use baby powder regularly experience a threefold increase in the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

• 1997: the American Journal of Epidemiology published a study finding that the perineal use of talcum powder increases the risk of cancer. The study also suggests that using genital deodorant sprays containing talcum may contribute to cancer growth.

• 1999: a study by Harvard gynecologist Dr. Daniel Cramer, titled “Genital talc exposure and risk of ovarian cancer,” appeared in the International Journal of Cancer. The study found “a significant association between the use of talc in genital hygiene and risk of epithelial ovarian cancer” which “warrants more formal public health warnings.”

• 2003: a meta-analysis published in Anticancer Research found perineal baby powder use is associated with a 33% increase in ovarian cancer risk. A meta-analysis is a compilation of various studies. Here, the meta-analysis compiled and reviewed the data from 16 studies which included research on over 12,000 women.

• 2008: Dr. Margaret Gates, a Harvard epidemiologist, affirms regular talcum powder use for perineal purposes increases the risk ovarian cancer by 33% and the daily use of J&J’s Shower to Shower® product increases the risk of ovarian cancer by 41%.

• 2010: a study in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention investigated the role that talc particles have in the development of endometrial cancer. The study, by Dr. Gates and other Harvard researchers, found talc in baby powder is carcinogenic to humans.

• 2013: a study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research reviewed data on over 2,000 women who used talcum powder in the genital area. The study found women who use talc in this manner face a 20% to 30% higher risk of ovarian cancer than women who do not use these talc containing products.

These studies, and others, show a scientific link between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer. To date, there is no such scientific evidence linking talcum powder use to other cancers such as uterine cancer or cervical cancer.

Join a talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit

Our firm currently is investigating ovarian cancer cases allegedly caused by talc products, including Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder® and Shower to Shower®. If you, or someone you know, developed ovarian cancer and you suspect talcum powder use, please fill out the confidential form below or call us toll-free at 1-800-736-9085, as you may have a valuable legal claim.

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