My Mom Died from Using Baby Powder

By - June 13, 2019
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There is a large and growing stack of evidence that women using talc in the genital region can boost a woman’s chances of getting ovarian cancer. If the many lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson are any indication, such as a massive $4.7 billion verdict last year (usatoday.com), many people’s mothers, wives, sisters, and other relatives have died in recent years from using baby powder in this way. If you have ever used baby powder on your genital areas and are a woman, below is very important information to read.

Statistics from the US government find that one in every 75 women will get ovarian cancer during their lives. This comprises 1% of the US female population. It is a lot lower than the risk of getting breast cancer. But different from breast cancer, we lack a recommended screening test to check for ovarian cancer. So rarely is it diagnosed in the early stages. (center4research.org)

In 2017, there were at least 20,000 women who developed ovarian cancer and more than 14,000 fatalities. If ovarian cancer is found early enough, the woman has a 93% chance of living a minimum of five years after diagnosis. But the odds drop to under 30% if cancer gets to other areas of the body.

Moms At Higher Risk of Ovarian Cancer With Baby Powder Use

Dozens of clinical studies involving tens of thousands of women indicate that women who use baby powder are 30% more likely to get ovarian cancer. This means over the entire life, a woman who uses baby powder boosts her chances of getting cancer from 1.3% to 1.7%. While that is still a low risk, it is substantially higher with use of baby powder on the genitals. If a million women use baby powder for their personal hygiene, this suggests 4,000 of those women will get ovarian cancer who would not have.

How Strong Is The Evidence?

A large amount of evidence is derived from case-control studies. For these types of clinical studies, researchers get two female groups. The first is the group of women with ovarian cancer, which is referred to as ‘cases.’ The next group is women who do not have ovarian cancer, and are referred to as ‘controls.’

Each group of women is asked to remember if they used baby powder in past years. If so, how often did they use it and where on the body? These studies do not tell us for certain that baby powder caused mom’s cancer, but they can indicate if women who said they used baby powder on the genitals are more likely to get cancer.

There is not a guarantee that people’s memories of using baby powder are totally accurate. But many women in the studies can say for certain if they used baby powder on their genitals extensively or not. Consistent findings in these case-control studies of baby powder use in the US and many countries in Europe suggest there are similar rises in ovarian cancer cases among those who used baby powder regularly.

Further, The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) within the World Health Organization, stated there is a consistent higher chance of getting ovarian cancer among females who said they used baby powder on their genitals.

The African American Cancer Epidemiology Study (AACES)

This case-control study released in 2016 looked at 585 black women who had ovarian cancer in 12 areas of the US to 750 women who did not have cancer who were in the same area and age group.

In the AACES study, baby powder use on the genitals was common. Approximately 63% of women with cancer and 53% of women without cancer said they had used baby powder. The clinical study indicated that women who used baby powder anywhere on their body, used baby powder on their genitals or anywhere else, had a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Women who said they used baby powder on their genitals, whether they had used it elsewhere, were 45% more likely to get ovarian cancer. Rather than having a lifetime risk of 1.3%, the women who used baby powder had a nearly 2% risk. The author of the clinical study thought this was vital because black women are generally more likely to use baby powder. It makes it easier to find a link between baby powder and ovarian cancer.

The AACES study also found women with a respiratory health problem, such as asthma, had a slightly higher chance of getting ovarian cancer if they used baby powder, compared to women without a respiratory problem. The study’s authors think baby powder use can lead to inflammation in the body, which may cause cancer cell growth in some women.

The New England Study

The New England ovarian cancer study also indicates the human body may develop cancer due to inflammation caused by baby powder use. The study was supported by grants from the NIH. They looked at 2040 women who were living in MA and NH who were diagnosed with cancer with 1580 women who were not in the same demographic and geographic area. They said women who used baby powder on the genitals had a higher chance of getting ovarian cancer.

Most women stated they used Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder or its Shower to Shower product. The study found women using baby powder had a 33% higher chance to get ovarian cancer. Rather than having a risk of 1.3%, women using baby powder had a 1.7% risk.

One potential reason for the risk of using baby powder is that it can contain small amounts of asbestos in some cases. In 2009, FDA did a small survey of cosmetics that used baby powder. They concluded there was no asbestos in any of the products, but noted it was a very small survey and there was no proof that most cosmetic products containing baby powder in the US are assured of being free of asbestos.

Conclusion

The evidence suggests women who use baby powder on their bodies generally and on the genitals specifically for long periods of time may have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. If your mom died from using baby powder, it is recommended to talk to a baby powder cancer attorney in your area, as you could be eligible for compensation.

References

Nearly $4.7 Billion Awarded in J&J Baby Powder Lawsuit. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/legal/2018/07/12/nearly-4-7-billion-awarded-j-j-baby-powder-lawsuit/781525002/

Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer Studies. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.center4research.org/talcum-powder-ovarian-cancer/

Melinda J.
Melinda J.

Editor-in-Chief of TalcumPowderSafety. Since 1999, she's worked across a multitude of areas of consumer protection including defective products, environmental issues, identity theft, predatory lending and more.

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