Does baby powder cause cancer? Another jury says yes.
A court in the United State of America slapped damages of $55 million against one of the country’s pharmaceutical giants, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) for not informing customers properly that the company’s talcum powder causes cancer.
The lawsuit was brought by forward by Gloria Ristesund, a victim of the powder, who is currently suffering from ovarian cancer as a result of long term use of the product.
According to the account of Gloria’s story, she has been using J&J’s talcum powder for over 35 years. However, in 2011, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Doctors confirmed that her cancer was as a result of her prolonged usage of the talcum powder.
It seems that Johnson & Johnson has been making multiple headlines lately, as the company has been accused of causing numerous cases of cancer and illnesses with its talcum-based products. Over 3,000 cases have been filed against the company all over the U.S. claiming that their talc-based products increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer
In early 2016, the company was ordered to pay $72 million US to the family of a woman whose death from ovarian cancer was linked to her decades-long use of the company’s baby powder.
In the month of May, 2017, a St. Louis jury awarded $110.5 million to Lois Slemp, 62, of Wise, Virginia, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012. She blames her illness on her use of the company’s talcum powder-containing products for more than 40 years.
Johnson & Johnson Facing Hundreds Of Lawsuits Over Cancer-linked Talc Powder
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Besides Slemp’s case, three other jury trials in St. Louis reached similar outcomes last year, awarding the plaintiffs $72 million, $70.1 million and $55 million, for a combined total of $307.6 million. The company says its product is safe, and it plans to appeal the latest verdict, as it has the other three.
Johnson & Johnson, the world’s biggest maker of health care products, brings in about $72 billion a year selling prescription drugs, medical devices, diagnostic equipment and consumer products ranging from baby shampoo and Aveeno skin care items to Tylenol pain reliever and Band-Aids.J&J was founded in 1886, and is headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
The American Cancer Society has said in the past that it is not clear if products containing talcum powder increase cancer risk. However, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, classifies talcum as a possibly carcinogenic to humans, meaning it causes cancer.
What is Talc?
Talc is a mineral that is mined from deposits around the world, including the U.S. The softest of minerals, it’s crushed into a white powder. It’s been widely used in cosmetics and other personal care products to absorb moisture since at least 1894, when Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder was launched. But it’s mainly used in a variety of other products, including paint and plastics.
Does Talc Cause Ovarian Cancer?
Like many questions in science, there’s no definitive answer. Finding the cause of cancer is difficult. It would be unethical to do the best kind of study, asking a group of women to use talcum powder on their genitals and wait to see if it causes cancer, while comparing them to a group who didn’t use it.
While ovarian cancer is often fatal, it’s relatively rare. It accounts for only about 22,400 of the 1.7 million new cases of cancer expected to be diagnosed in the United States this year.
Factors that are known to increase a women’s risk of ovarian cancer include age, obesity, use of estrogen therapy after menopause, not having any children, certain genetic mutations and personal or family history of breast or ovarian cancer.
What Research Shows
The biggest studies have found no link between talcum powder applied to the genitals and ovarian cancer. But about two dozen smaller studies over three decades have mostly found a modest connection — a 20 percent to 40 percent increased risk among talc users.
However, that doesn’t mean talc causes cancer. Several factors make that unlikely, and there’s no proof talc, which doesn’t interact with chemicals or cells, can travel up the reproductive tract, enter the ovaries and then trigger cancer.
One large study published in June 2016 that followed 51,000 sisters of breast cancer patients found genital talc users had a reduced risk of ovarian cancer, 27 percent lower than in nonusers. An analysis of two huge, long-running U.S. studies, the Women’s Health Initiative and the Nurses’ Health Study, showed no increased risk of ovarian cancer in talc users.
What Experts Say
If there were a true link, Dr. Hal C. Lawrence III says large studies that tracked. Women’s health for years would have verified results of the smaller ones.
“Lord knows, with the amount of powder that’s been applied to babies’ bottoms, we would’ve seen something,” if talc caused cancer, said Lawrence, vice president of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
The National Cancer Institute’s Dr. Nicolas Wentzensen says the federal agency’s position is that there’s not a clear connection. “It is very hard to establish causal relationships,” he said, adding, “A lot of ovarian cancers occur in women who have never used talc, and many women have used talc and not gotten ovarian cancer.”
On its website the American Cancer Society states: “The risk for any individual woman, if there is one, is probably very small.”
Watch Johnson & Johnson Loses $55 Million Talc Powder Cancer Lawsuit
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