Our firm is representing women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer that may have been caused by perineal exposure to talcum powder products. Successive juries have returned verdicts against Johnson & Johnson for failing to warn its customers of a potential cancer risk related to its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products. We are helping ovarian cancer survivors—and family members of those who have passed away—determine whether they may have a potential claim related to their illness.
There are several criteria important to considering whether a diagnosis of ovarian cancer may be linked to talcum powder products. These include:
- The length and consistency of use of talcum powder products;
- Family history of ovarian or breast cancer; and
- History of birth control use.
We have a comprehensive review process in which we analyze all of the facts pertaining to your illness, access your medical records, and even microscopically analyze tissue samples from previous surgeries. While we cannot promise results to anyone, it is our goal to assure each client that she will know much more about her cancer after working with us.
The talc/ovarian cancer line of litigation is very new. The first case of this kind was tried before a jury in the Fall of 2013. But scientists have long suspected a link between perineal use of talc-based products and the development of ovarian cancer.
In the mid-1980s, Harvard researchers conducted a study of 235 women between 18-76 years of age diagnosed with ovarian cancer. 114 (48.5%) of the women were found to have been exposed to talcum powder in their perineal region.
This was a rate of exposure significantly higher than that of the non-cancer control group (39.3%). The study observed that exposure to talc did not appear to be the primary cause of ovarian cancer, but that “the proportion of ovarian cancer incidence attributable to this level of talc exposure is about 10%.” “Nevertheless,” Harvard emphasized, “given the poor prognosis for ovarian cancer, any potentially harmful exposures should be avoided, particularly those with limited benefits. For this reason, we discourage the use of talc in genital hygiene, particularly as a daily habit.”
Johnson & Johnson continues to dispute the allegations that its Baby Power and Shower-to-Shower products (which are composed primarily of talcum powder) can lead to the development of ovarian cancer. However, of the three cases which have gone to trial thus far, all juries have found Johnson & Johnson liable for failing to disclose this research to its customers.
Two of the three cases have resulted in substantial damages awards against the company: first, an award of $72 million to the family of an ovarian cancer victim; and second, a verdict of $55 million on behalf of a woman who contracted ovarian cancer but was later cured. But juries awarded substantial sums of punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson.
Jury Links Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder to Ovarian Cancer
A St. Louis, Missouri jury’s award of $72 million to the family of an ovarian cancer victim has brought new attention to safety concerns pertaining to the use of talcum powder.
The lawsuit, brought by the family of Jackie Fox, alleged that extended use of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Power and Shower-to-Shower led to her contraction of ovarian cancer in March of 2013. Mrs. Fox succumbed to her illness approximately 18 months later. The jury awarded her family $10 million in actual damages and $62 million in punitive damages. Approximately 1,200 similar lawsuits are pending throughout the United States.
The Johnson & Johnson products are comprised mainly of talcum powder. Talc, itself, contains the elements magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. Some studies have linked the repeated use of talcum powder around the genital area for hygienic purposes with an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Prior to Mrs. Fox’s lawsuit, Johnson & Johnson did not inform its consumers of that increased risk.
Chappell, Chappell and Newman has been investigating the connection between talcum powder and ovarian cancer since October of 2014 and currently has one lawsuit pending on the matter. There are several criteria important to considering whether a diagnosis of ovarian cancer may be linked to talcum powder products:
- The length and consistency of use of talcum powder products;
- Family history of ovarian or breast cancer; and
- History of birth control use.
Our law firm is continuing to develop our current talcum powder litigation and is actively screening new cases. If you or a loved one has suffered from ovarian cancer that may have been caused by exposure to talcum powder products, contact the products liability lawyers for clear answers about your rights and options for proceeding, as well as effective legal advocacy moving forward.
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Our firm is representing women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer that may have been caused by perineal exposure to talcum powder products. We are helping ovarian cancer survivors—and family members of those who have passed away—determine whether they may have a potential claim related to their illness. Read More
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Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer 7 Things You Need to Know
The $72 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson on behalf of the family of an ovarian cancer victim has raised numerous questions pertaining to the connection of the disease and exposure to talcum powder. Here are the answers to the seven most common questions we are receiving from clients.
- “How long has talcum powder been linked to ovarian cancer?”Scientists have suspected since the 1960s that some cases of ovarian cancer have been caused by environmental exposure. This was due, in large part, to instances of ovarian cancer being two to three times more common in the industrialized world compared to developing nations.
Initially, the primary contaminant considered by researchers was asbestos. Asbestosis and mesothelioma were bursting onto the scene of the oncological community in the 50s and 60s and were thus garnering much attention. As a result, a British team at the Welsh National School of Medicine searched for asbestos crystals when it used a new microscopic examination technique to examine tissue samples of ovarian and cervical tumors in 1971. To the team’s surprise, however, no asbestos was found. But, in 75% of the tumors, particles of talc were identified. The British team recognized that “it is impossible to incriminate talc as a primary cause [of cancer] on the preliminary observations described here, … [but] further investigations are obviously required.”
The discovery of talc during the search for asbestos was not coincidental. As a paper from the National Institutes of Health observed in 1979, “mineral talc is closely related to asbestos, and the two substances are often found together in mineral deposits.” In fact, prior to 1976, asbestos could be found in talc products sold to the public. Only in that year did the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association (CTFA) revise its guidelines for talc to recommend that no sample containing asbestos reach the market.
But the medical community continued to study talc’s possible connection to ovarian cancer. In 1979, the National Cancer Institute observed that “the risk of cosmetic talc has not been fully evaluated.” Citing the previous studies referenced in this article, the NCI argued “various lines of evidence make it difficult to absolve cosmetic talc as a possible carcinogen, co-carcinogen, or promoter of malignant transformation.”
The Harvard Medical School set out to answer the question in the mid-1980s. From July 1984 to September 1987, Harvard researchers conducted a controlled study of 235 women between 18-76 years of age diagnosed with borderline or malignant epithelial ovarian cancer. 114 (48.5%) of the women were found to have been exposed to talcum powder in there perineal region. This was a rate of exposure significantly higher than that of the non-cancer control group (39.3%). The study observed that exposure to talc did not appear to be the primary cause of ovarian cancer, but that “the proportion of ovarian cancer incidence attributable to this level of talc exposure is about 10%.” “Nevertheless,” Harvard emphasized, “given the poor prognosis for ovarian cancer, any potentially harmful exposures should be avoided, particularly those with limited benefits. For this reason, we discourage the use of talc in genital hygiene, particularly as a daily habit.”
The Harvard study was published in 1989—seventeen years prior to the $72 million Johnson & Johnson verdict.
- “What do today’s studies show?”Scientists throughout the world have continued to study the connection of talc to ovarian cancer. In 2000, the journal Epidemiology published an article that compiled results from 12 epidemiological studies of the question at that point. Of the 12, ten studies “reported at least some elevation in cancer risk among women.”
In 2013, twenty-four doctors and researchers from a variety of centers such as Harvard, Duke, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and the University of Pittsburg collaborated on a major pooling of all known studies, resulting in an analysis of over 18,000 individuals with and without ovarian cancer. The results of this study found a 20-30% increased risk of ovarian cancer with genital-powder use. The study went on to suggest that “since there are few modifiable risk factors for ovarian cancer, avoidance of genital powders may be a possible strategy to reduce ovarian cancer incidence.”
The latest analysis was published in May of 2015. The author, an epidemiologist from the University of Texas, concluded that “talc use increased ovarian cancer risk by 30–60% in almost all well-designed studies. The Attributable Risk was 29%, meaning that elimination of talc use could protect more than one quarter or more of women who develop ovarian cancer.”
- “What type of talcum powder use is associated with higher risks of ovarian cancer?”The greatest risk of ovarian cancer arises from the direct application of talcum powder products to the exterior of the female genitalia. Use of such powder on other areas of the body has not been connected with an increase in risk of ovarian cancer.
- “How do the talc particles reach the ovaries?”Somewhat surprisingly, scientific studies have shown us that otherwise immobile particles can move from the vagina to the fallopian tubes within 30 to 35 minutes. Post-surgical analyses of cancerous ovarian tumors have shown the presence of talc in the tissue, sometimes even years after a hysterectomy or tubal ligation has made that journey impossible. As a result, scientists believe that the talc has the ability to transport to the ovaries relatively quickly, while a long period of latency between the talc use and the development of cancer may result.
- “How is it possible to prove that talc caused ovarian cancer?”As noted above, talc particles can be identified in ovarian tissue with the use of a microscope. After an oophorectomy or full hysterectomy, ovarian tissue is generally preserved by healthcare providers for ten years. Analyzing that tissue for the presence of talc particles establishes what lawyers refer to as “the causal chain.”
- “Is smoking or drinking associated with ovarian cancer?”No. Exposure to cigarettes or alcohol has not been linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
- “How can I find out if exposure to talcum powder caused my ovarian cancer?”Our law firm is investigating many cases of ovarian cancer and their possible relationship to talcum powder products.
Ovarian Cancer and Baby Powder: J&J Hammered Again
A Missouri jury has returned a verdict of $55 million on behalf of a woman who contracted ovarian cancer as a result of her use of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder. This verdict comes two months after a $72 million verdict on behalf of another cancer victim.
The Plaintiff, Gloria Ristesund, testified that she used Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products on her perineal area for decades. After being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Ristesund was forced to undergo a hysterectomy and related procedures. Fortunately, her cancer is now in remission.
Johnson & Johnson continues to dispute the allegations that its Baby Power and Shower-to-Shower products (which are composed primarily of talcum powder) can lead to the development of ovarian cancer. However, as we’ve discussed before, scientists at some of the leading medical schools in the United States have long considered talc to be a carcinogen.
In fact, as early as 1971, researchers in Great Britain were identifying talc particles buried deep within the cancerous tissue of ovaries removed from women suffering from ovarian cancer. The picture shown below is a microscopic image of cancerous ovarian tissue, magnified 30,000 times. The image was featured in the March 1971 edition of The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the British Commonwealth and depicts the tell-tale “decoration pattern” of a talc grain implanted within the tumor.
We are using similar methods to identify which of our clients have suffered from talc-related ovarian cancer. Forensic laboratories preserve tissue samples from hysterectomies and oophorectomies for a minimum of ten years, giving cancer survivors a means of analyzing whether their illness was caused by exposure to talc.
Contact an Experienced Columbia Personal Injury Lawyer at Chappell, Chappell and Newman
If you or a loved one would like more information about the link between ovarian cancer and talc-based products, contact a Columbia personal injury lawyer at Chappell, Chappell and Newman for experienced help moving forward. Since 1993, our lawyers have been committed to protecting our clients’ rights and interests’ and helping them obtain – and keep – the benefits to which they are entitled.
Call our firm or contact us online to set up a free, no obligations initial consult with one of our lawyers. During this meeting, you can find out more about your rights, as well as how we can help you.
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