The Johnson & Johnson baby powder lawsuits have brought attention to the possible link between talcum powder and cancer. Talcum powder, also known as talc, is a mineral often used in cosmetic products, including baby powder. With the severity of this mineral’s possible link to illness, it's important to stay informed and make informed choices about the products we use on our bodies.
What Is Talc?
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), talc is a “naturally occurring mineral, mined from the earth, composed of magnesium, silicon, oxygen, and hydrogen.” As noted earlier, the mineral can be found in many cosmetics as well as in personal care products. It is often used to absorb moisture, prevent caking, or to improve the feel of a product.
Talc can be produced industrially or mined from the earth. Unfortunately, some talc deposits contain asbestos and asbestos fibers, a mineral linked to cancer. Therefore, testing talc samples for asbestos is the only way to identify contamination.
However, there is a type of asbestos known as tremolite. Some cosmetic talcum powders labeled as "tremolite-free" still contained tremolite, showing that this approach does not guarantee safety. It is crucial to be vigilant when choosing talc-based products to avoid potential health risks.
How Harmful Is Talcum Powder?
As far back as the 1960s, scientific studies have suggested that the use of powders containing talc in the genital area may be linked to ovarian cancer. However, no conclusive evidence has been found to confirm this association or to identify any specific risk factors. Additionally, individuals who have long-term exposure to talc particles through occupation, such as talc miners, may be at higher risk for lung cancer due to inhalation. However, the results of studies over the years have come with mixed results on whether talc powder causes cancer.
Cancers with possible links to talc include:
- Ovarian cancer: Talc powder has been suggested to cause ovarian cancer if the powder particles that are applied to the genital area or on sanitary napkins, diaphragms, or condoms are able to travel through the vagina, uterus, and fallopian tubes to the ovaries. However, some studies reported a slight increase, while others reported no increase.
- Lung cancer: Another cancer with possible links to talc powder is lung cancer. Some studies of talc miners and millers suggest that these workers are at an increased risk of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases. However, other substances these workers are exposed to, such as radon can be linked to cancer.
- Other cancers: Cancers such as endometrial (uterine) cancer in women, stomach cancer, and pleural mesothelioma (cancer of the lining surrounding the lungs) have limited research suggesting there is a slight risk with talc. However, further studies are needed as there is no strong evidence at this time.
It is important to note that when discussing whether talc is linked to cancer, there are two types of talc to be aware of. Talc that contains asbestos and talc that is asbestos-free. While talc that contains asbestos is generally known to be able to cause cancer if inhaled, evidence about asbestos-free talc is less clear.
Talcum powder lawsuits are currently claiming a link between talc products and cancer diagnoses. Not just Johnson & Johnson, but many other manufacturers and distributors are being held liable for neglecting to warn consumers of the health risks associated with their products.
Plaintiffs across all 50 states argue that baby powder manufacturers knew of asbestos contamination in talc cosmetic products, which could result in mesothelioma and ovarian cancer, but failed to warn customers.
Along with these claims, plaintiffs have also filed lawsuits linking talc to:
- Fallopian tube cancer
- Peritoneal cancer,
Furthermore, some argue that talc exposure can still lead to these diseases even without asbestos contamination. These lawsuits are shedding light on the significant health risks associated with talc powder.
Johnson & Johnson Talc Lawsuit
Johnson & Johnson, a household name for many, has made headlines due to lawsuits over the potential presence of asbestos-contaminated talcum powder in their baby powder products. In October 2019, the FDA conducted a year-long study on talc-containing cosmetic products, leading to recalls of certain products, including a single lot of Johnson's Baby Powder.
Subsequently, by April 2020, J&J was named in thousands of lawsuits that alleged a link between their talc products and cancer diagnoses. As a result, the company ceased to sell talc-based Johnson's Baby Powder products in the U.S. and Canada, having paid roughly $4 billion in settlements, verdicts, and defense costs.
In August 2022, the company stated they would pull all talc powder products off the global market in 2023 and replace talc with cornstarch. As of recently, Johnson & Johnson attempted to pass liability to LTL Management, LLC (LTL) and have them declare bankruptcy. However, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia found both companies to not be in financial distress. As of recently, Johnson & Johnson plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
What Qualifies for the Talcum Powder Lawsuit?
If you have been using a product that contains talcum powder regularly for an extended period of time and have been diagnosed with an illness such as mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, or other forms of cancer, you may be entitled to file a talcum powder lawsuit.
It is important to consult with a seasoned attorney to evaluate your case and determine if you qualify for legal action. At May, Rammell & Wells, our experienced product liability lawyers can help you understand your legal rights and navigate the litigation process. Don't delay; contact us today to preserve your interests and seek the justice you deserve.
Call us at (208) 623-8021 or reach out to us online to learn more.