Talcum powder is best known as a product that helps absorb moisture and reduce irritation. Unfortunately, recent findings have shown talcum powder may be linked to thousands of cases of ovarian cancer.
Studies indicate using talc products in the genital areas correlates with developing ovarian cancer. Since 1971, more than 20 studies have found this correlation. In 2003, a closer look at these studies concluded women were 33% more likely to develop ovarian cancer when using talcum powder. Talc, when used near the genitals, can travel to the ovaries and attach itself to the ovarian tissue.1
In 2002 the president of the Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrances Association admitted that talc is a carcinogen that can travel to the ovaries if applied to or surrounding a woman’s genital area.
2016: Johnson & Johnson is ordered to pay $72 million to the family of Jacqueline Fox, a woman whose death from ovarian cancer was linked to her use of Johnson & Johnson’s talc products for decades.
2011: In what was the strongest association to date, Harvard researchers funded by the National Cancer Institute again found a dose-response relationship between use of talc on the genitals and ovarian cancer. The 4,000-woman study revealed a 200% to 300% increased risk of cancer from perineum talc use. The study also appeared to determine why the dose-response relationship had been hard to detect decades before.
2008: In what became known as the “Gates Study,” researchers funded by the National Cancer Institute found a strong and positive dose-response relationship indicating the more talc a woman used on her genitals, the higher her risk of ovarian cancer. The researchers urged women not to use talc on the genital area and asked physicians to inquire with female patients on their talc use and to advise them to stop. That same year a petition from the CPC called for a cancer warning on cosmetic talc products.
The Gates study led to officials from the American Cancer Society determining that there was finally a relationship between talc and ovarian cancer.
2007: Researchers were able to induce carcinogenesis by applying talc to ovarian cancer cell lines, showing that talc can cause ovarian cancer.
2006: The World Health Organization (WHO) classified genital talc use as a possible human carcinogen, noting that 16% to 52% of women around the world were using talc in a way that may increase their cancer risk. That same year, Canada classified talc as “very toxic” and “cancer causing.”
2004: California researchers looked at data on nearly 1,400 women and found a 77% increased risk of invasive ovarian cancer among talc users. However, there was no increased risk if the women used cornstarch-based powder products.
1998: Canadian researchers found that women who used talc on their perineum faced a 149% increased risk of ovarian cancer.
1997: A toxicology consultant for Johnson & Johnson warned the company that on three separate occasions the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association, which included J&J officials, had released false safety information on talc.
1996: The condom industry ceased the practice of dusting condoms with talc because of concerns about the risk of ovarian cancer for women.
1994: The Cancer Prevention Coalition (CPC) cited numerous studies to Johnson & Johnson in a letter urging the company to issue talcum powder recalls to remove the products from the market.
1993: The U.S. National Toxicology Program determined that talc was a carcinogen even when asbestos-like fibers were not present.
1992: A study by researchers at Johns Hopkins found that applying talc to the genitals using a sanitary napkin increased a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer by 379%.
1988: Researchers found a dose-response relationship between genital talc use and ovarian cancer and determined that 52% of cancer patients regularly used talc on their genitals before their cancer diagnosis. Similar results were found in a study the following year.
1982: Harvard researchers found that genital talc use increased the risk of ovarian cancer by 92%, proving an epidemiologic association between using talc for genital hygiene and ovarian cancer, but not a causal link. This was followed by 21 different studies worldwide, almost all finding an association between talc and ovarian cancer. Rather than warning about the potential risks, Johnson & Johnson and other talc powder manufacturers claimed the study findings were inconclusive.
1976: In a follow-up to the 1968 study, researchers determined that regulatory standards needed to be created for talc use due to the fibrous content. They also called for an evaluation of the possible health risks.
1971: Researchers found talc particles deeply embedded in ovarian and cervical tumors of women with cancer. They also found that women without cancer had less of a chance of having such particles in their body.
1968: Another study found that 19% of talc was fibrous content, which could cause unsuspecting health problems. Some of these included fibers similar to asbestos.
1961: A study found that carbon particles similar to talc can translocate from the exterior of women’s genitals to women’s ovaries.
1893: Johnson & Johnson first develops Baby Powder, promoting it as a means of absorbing unwanted moisture and odors from babies and women. Over the next century, use of the talc-based powder will continue to grow, with the manufacturer pushing use for adult women as a means to keep their skin fresh.
If you, a loved one or someone you know used any talc product and thereafter developed ovarian cancer, our attorneys would like to speak to you. You may have a claim and may be entitled to financial compensation. Stevenson & Murray represents women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. For a free, no-obligation consultation, please contact us today at (713) 622-3223, or complete a case evaluation on this page.
1 Department of Clinical Oncology, Marshfield Clinic Cancer Center, Marshfield, WI, USA, Perineal application of cosmetic talc and risk of invasive epithelial ovarian cancer: a meta-analysis of 11,933 subjects from sixteen observational studies., http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12820486.