LawCall - Talcum

The use of talcum powder for feminine hygiene has been linked to ovarian cancer.

Talcum powder absorbs moisture and helps cut down on friction, which makes it a useful for keeping skin dry and preventing rashes. It is widely used in baby powder and facial powders and in a wide range of other consumer products.

Most concerns about the use of talcum powder causing cancer focus on two areas:

  • Talc miners inhaling asbestos inherently found in raw talcum
  • And, whether women who apply talcum powder regularly in the genital area have an increased risk of ovarian cancer

A federal jury in late 2013 found that a woman’s use of Johnson & Johnson products that contained talcum contributed to her ovarian cancer.

The woman had used talcum powder for personal hygiene for more than 30 years. Using a scanner designed to find foreign particles in the body, her doctors found talcum deep within her pelvic area and linked it to her ovarian cancer.

Johnson & Johnson says it knew about the potential risk, but believed its product to be safe, and therefore, did not put a warning on the labels of products containing talcum powder.

A Harvard researcher told jurors that talc probably was a contributing factor in 10,000 cases of ovarian cancer each year.

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