Lawsuit calls attention to link between talcum powder and cancer

A recent lawsuit has brought attention to whether or not talcum powder causes ovarian cancer.

Since the 1970s, talcum powder products that are used or sold in West Virginia and throughout the United States have been asbestos-free. According to the American Cancer Society, this is important because asbestos has long been linked to cancer. Yet there are still concerns that talcum powder may cause cancer, specifically among women who use it for feminine hygiene purposes.

A jury recently awarded a sizeable sum to a woman's family on the basis that talc and ovarian cancer are, in fact, linked. A recent study supports that notion.

The case

According to CBS News, an Alabama woman had been using Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for decades. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in March 2013 and filed a civil suit against the company. After her death in October of last year, her son took over the claim.

The lawsuit alleged that the company failed to warn consumers of the dangers of using products that contain talc. USA Today reports that there was even an internal memo that circulated in 1997 in which a medical consultant for Johnson & Johnson stated that there was a risk involved.

In February of this year, a jury ruled that the company would have to pay the family of the deceased $72 million in damages, $62 million of which were punitive. There are approximately 1,200 similar pending lawsuits still facing Johnson & Johnson, USA Today reports.

The prevalence of talc use

Fair Warning, a public health and safety investigative organization, notes that millions of women have been using products that contain talcum powder for years. It was practice to place the powder - which absorbs moisture - in underwear or even directly on the genitals to reduce odor. Similar products are also on the market for children, leading many people to believe them to be safe.

Actual risks involved

Though Johnson & Johnson denies any risk associated with talcum powder products, a recent study suggests otherwise. In a report published with the U.S. National Library of Medicine, researchers state that people who used what they referred to as genital talc were at an increased risk for developing ovarian cancer of 33 percent.

The author of the study told Reuters that repeated use of talc can result in the substance getting into the upper genital tract. If women knew that, he stated, they may reconsider using it. People who have concerns regarding this topic should contact a personal injury attorney at James F. Humphreys & Associates, L.C., 304-347-5050.