Branded as the baby-friendly household product, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Baby Powder made of talcum powder has been linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
The cosmetics industry uses over 13,000 chemicals in its products. Despite using so many chemicals in their products, only color additives require pre-market approval by the FDA.
Most other chemicals are not evaluated for safety and are not FDA-approved.
Talcum powder is one of the many products that portray a baby-friendly image.
Unfortunately, talc powder products may carry some unexpected risks.
As early as 1971, researchers have found talc particles logged in ovarian tumors. Many additional studies with varied measures of risk suggest that “women may increase their risk for ovarian cancer anywhere from 30 to 90 percent by applying talcum power to their genital area.” | source
Some believe that Johnson & Johnson had known about the dangers of talcum power since the 1970’s, but that it covered up the cancer/talcum powder link for reasons of profit, a scandal so big, it is compared to the tobacco companies and their knowledge about the dangers of smoking cigarettes.
A jury in St. Louis awarded $55 million to plaintiff Gloria Ristesund of Sioux Falls, SD, based on the accusation that J&J distorted research about the talcum-cancer connection and hid its knowledge about the products’ risks.
Ristesund used J&J’s talc-based feminine hygiene products for almost 40 years.
In 2011, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She underwent a hysterectomy, which revealed that talc was present in her ovarian tissue.
J&J was hit with two more multi-million dollar jury verdicts in favor of plaintiffs who claimed J&J’s talc powder products caused their ovarian cancer.
$72 million was awarded on February 22, 2016, to the family of Jacqueline Fox of Birmingham, AL, who passed away in 2015.
$70.1 million was awarded on October 27, 2016, to Deborah Giannecchini of Modesto, California, who was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer in 2012. J&J currently faces more than 1000 similar lawsuits.
Robinson Calcagnie, a legal firm representing talcum powder victims, states:
“The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer [IARC] has designated ‘perineal [genital] use of talc-based body powder is possibly carcinogenic to humans.’
However, manufacturers of talc-containing products, such as [J&J] and its Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products, have refused to acknowledge the link between talc and ovarian cancer and have failed [to] adequately warn consumers of the risks.
Now, more than 1,000 women across the country have filed lawsuits against [J&J] and its talc distributor Imerys, claiming the companies knew of the association between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer yet failed to adequately warn consumers.”
The Cover-up of Talc Power Dangers
In 1993, the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) published a study on the toxicity of non-asbestiform talc and found clear evidence of carcinogenic activity. Even without the presence of asbestos-like fibers, talc was categorized as a carcinogen.
To address the claims of this research, several players of the cosmetics industry, including J&J, formed the Talc Interested Party Task Force (TIPTF). The TIPTFs goal was to perform research to defend the safety of talc power.
The courts which ruled against J&J found that the members of this task force lied to consumers and used their political influence to affect regulations regarding the safety of talc products.
According to the women’s lawsuit, TIPTF hired scientists to perform biased research regarding the safety of talc. Members of TIPTF edited scientific reports of the scientists it hired prior the submission of these scientific reports to governmental agencies. Members of TIPTF released false information about the safety of talc to consumers, and used political and economic influence on regulatory bodies throughout the 1990s.
Interestingly enough, in 2006, the Canadian government classified talc as a D2A substance, which is considered “very toxic” and “cancer causing” under its workplace hazardous materials classification. In the same year, J&J’s supplier of talc, Imerys Tal, started adding a safety warning to its talc products. This warning was never passed on by J&J to end consumers.
One juror in the $55 million case, Jerome Kendrick, told a St. Louis newspaper that the company’s internal memos “pretty much sealed my opinion.” He said, “They tried to cover up and influence the boards that regulate cosmetics.” He added, “They could have at least put a warning label on the box but they didn’t. They did nothing.”
This is yet another case of big business covering up or fabricating evidence in order to make money while knowingly putting consumers at serious risk.