Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer

By - June 13, 2019
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Talcum powder is frequently used by consumers to absorb moisture and reduce friction. It can be used on any body part, but the regular use of baby powder in the genital region may lead to ovarian cancer in women.

Evidence has been accumulating for years that long term, regular use of talcum powder can lead to higher risk of getting ovarian cancer. There are many current lawsuits showing that women who used baby powder for decades were later diagnosed with this deadly cancer. Some of these lawsuits have been successful in holding Johnson & Johnson liable for failing to warn consumers of the possible risks.

Asbestos in Talcum Powder – Possible Cause of Ovarian Cancer

Talc is a natural mineral and frequently contains traces of many other minerals when it is mined. Asbestos is one of them. Asbestos occurs naturally, but it can be harmful to human health and is known to cause various forms of cancer, including ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. Accidentally inhaling, ingesting or taking in asbestos fibers in some form can cause tissue damage and even cancer in some consumers. Mesothelioma is the cancer most often related to asbestos exposure, but evidence shows that small amounts of asbestos in talcum powder can lead to other forms of cancer.

The trade group Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrances Association formed guidelines in 1976 to make sure that products containing talc would not have asbestos in it. These were voluntary guidelines and stated that asbestos that is found in talc would be taken out so that no consumer products would contain asbestos.

Despite these guidelines that were made to protect Americans from harm from asbestos that could be in hygiene and other cosmetic products, many studies conducted in the last 40 years have determined that talcum powder still may contain asbestos. One clinical study did a test of several products and found that many did contain asbestos that could be inhaled or ingested by consumers using them.

A study performed by the FDA did not find any asbestos in the talcum powder products it tested, but this was a limited study. Critics of how the FDA measured asbestos in the talcum powder said the process was outdated and lacked sensitivity. (cancer.org)

Baby Powder and Ovarian Cancer

There is a clear association between regular and long term use of baby powder on the genitals and the development of ovarian cancer in women. Clinical studies have shown this connection, but there is still insufficient evidence that talcum powder is the sure cause. But the connection between the two is quite strong, however. And at times when asbestos is present in baby powder, it is known that this can lead to many forms of cancer.

One clinical study looked at baby powder use and the rates of ovarian cancer in 1000 women. The clinical study looked at the hygiene habits of 600 women who have ovarian cancer and 7000 women that did not have this diagnosis. The study determined that regularly using talcum powder on a woman’s genitals will increase the odds of getting ovarian cancer by 45%. The risk of ovarian cancer for life for women who use baby powder was higher than for those who did not use it. Another study found related results after it studied 8,000 women.

Also key was a clinical study that looked at the ways talc by itself could cause ovarian cancer. It could be that particles of talc can migrate from the outer genital region to the interior and up into the ovaries. Researchers have found talc particles when they looked at tissue from some ovarian tumors.

Ovarian Cancer Victims Prevail in Court

In the last few years, women who got ovarian cancer after using baby powder products for years have filed lawsuits against the corporations responsible. The most notable is Johnson & Johnson. A vital piece of evidence came to light during the wrongful death lawsuit for Jackie Fox, who passed away from ovarian cancer. Her loved ones sued Johnson & Johnson, and won a settlement of $72 million.

The attorneys for the family showed evidence that J&J knew there was a possible link between the use of baby powder and getting ovarian cancer. One internal memo from the company made it clear that J&J knew of the risk, but was still selling the product without any warnings. This was a substantial victory and was clear proof that victims such as Fox should be compensated for the cancer that baby powder caused.

That major victory was followed by others. There was a huge lawsuit for 22 women who filed a class action lawsuit against J&J. The jury in the personal injury case awarded the women a massive $4.7 billion. This included $4 billion in punitive damages for J&J for not warning consumers of the risks of ovarian cancer. Johnson & Johnson tried to get the decision reversed, but that decision was later upheld by an appeals judge. (center4research.org)

The evidence suggests that the use of talcum powder can enhance the risk and may lead to the development of ovarian cancer in women who have used it for many years. The risk is higher when women use the powder for longer periods and more regularity. It is important for women to be aware of these risks so they can make proper choices for their personal hygiene.

Johnson & Johnson and other companies are more often being held to account for their products cause ovarian cancer. If you or a loved one has developed ovarian cancer after using baby powder for years, it is recommended to speak to a personal injury attorney in your state, as you could be entitled to compensation.


Talcum Powder and Cancer. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/talcum-powder-and-cancer.html

Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer. (n.d.). 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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