Types of Cancer Caused by Talcum Powder Exposure

By - July 11, 2019
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 Talcum powder is frequently used in many consumer cosmetic products, the most well-known being Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder. J&J’s reputation has been under fire in the last several years as many personal injury lawsuits have been filed against it. The suits allege that talcum powder can cause cancer. Some of those cases have resulted in millions of dollars in compensation for the cancer victims.

Scientific evidence suggests there could be a link between using talcum powder and some types of cancer. Talc in its natural form often forms in and near asbestos, a dangerous human carcinogen. If all of the asbestos is not removed during processing, it is possible for some talcum powder users to get cancer. (Cancer.org)

Below is detailed information about the types of cancer you may get from using talcum powder.

Ovarian Cancer

Most of the lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson allege that the use of talcum powder on the female genitals can cause ovarian cancer. Many studies have shown this link. The fact that some J&J talcum powder tested positive for traces of asbestos in the past is a logical explanation for how the product could cause ovarian cancer.

One major study looked at the use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer rates in 1000 women. The study compared 600 women’s personal hygiene habits who had ovarian cancer with 700 women who did not have cancer. It was found that using talcum powder consistently on the female genitals can boost the chance of getting ovarian cancer by more than 40%. The risk of getting ovarian cancer sometime during life for women who used talcum powder was much higher than women who did not use it. (Northwestern.edu)

Another significant study looked at how talc may cause ovarian cancer. It is possible that talc particles can go from the outer genital area to the uterus, fallopian tubes and eventually the ovaries. Researchers in this study found some talc particles embedded in ovarian cancer tumors. (Center4research.org). It is theorized that the small particles of talc are trapped in the body over the years and can cause it to develop inflammation. This can cause the body to grow ovarian cancer cells.

There have been many court cases in the past few years where plaintiffs have alleged their ovarian cancer was caused by exposure to J&J Baby Powder. For example, in 2017, a jury told J&J it must pay more than $400 million to a woman in Los Angeles who got ovarian cancer after she used baby powder for decades on her genitals. Like most consumers, the woman did not know there could be a link between her cancer and talcum powder.

Another talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit resulted in an award of $110 million to a Virginia woman who also said her ovarian cancer was caused by J&J Baby Powder.

Internal J&J documents from the 1970s have proven that company officials were aware of a possible link, but they chose to not warn the public of the danger. This fact came out in a Reuters investigation in 2018 that found J&J performed tests on some of its talc and found traces of asbestos. These documents showed from 1971 until the early 2000s that some of J&J’s talcum powder would occasionally test positive for minute amounts of asbestos. (Health.com)

J&J has always stated that its baby powder is 100% safe and does not cause ovarian cancer. But research indicates there could be a potential link.

Lung Cancer

Some studies of people who mine talc have shown there could be a higher risk of getting lung cancer. These studies have suggested a possible link between talc and lung cancer because talc in its natural state can contain asbestos and various other minerals.


Mesothelioma is a terrible cancer of the lung lining that is caused only by exposure to asbestos. When tiny asbestos particles are breathed into the lungs, they can become embedded in the delicate lung tissue. The body will attempt to expel the particles but over the years, asbestos being trapped in the lungs can lead to genetic mutations that can result in mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer with approximately 3000 people per year diagnosed. Some people with mesothelioma have alleged that their cancer was caused by using talcum powder.

For example, a court case in New York involved a woman who used talcum powder on her genitals for many years. She alleged that she breathed in the talcum powder dust and it caused her mesothelioma. The jury on this case ordered J&J to pay $300 million in punitive damages to the plaintiff. That jury also awarded her $25 million in compensatory damages.

Johnson & Johnson said after that case that the trial would eventually result in a reversal on appeal because of ‘legal errors.’

What To Do If You Have Cancer and Used Talcum Powder

People who used talcum powder for years sometimes end up with various types of cancer. They should know that if it can be proven that their cancer was caused by exposure to talcum powder, they could obtain compensation for their medical bills, lost earnings and pain and suffering.

The first step in getting compensation in a talcum powder cancer lawsuit is to be diagnosed by a physician. Once you have a diagnosis, you can then talk to a personal injury attorney who can determine if you have a possible legal case. Most attorneys provide free consultations and are paid by a contingency fee. This means you do not need to pay anything upfront. If the case results in compensation either in a settlement or jury decision, you will pay the attorney approximately 33% of the award.

If you think your cancer was caused by exposure to J&J Baby Powder or a similar product, talk to the attorneys at the law office of Melinda J. Helbock A.P.C. They will provide you with a complimentary consultation and tell you if your case could result in compensation.


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

Can Using Baby Powder Down There Really Cause Cancer? (2018). Retrieved from https://www.health.com/mind-body/can-using-baby-powder-down-there-really-cause-cancer

Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.center4research.org/talcum-powder-ovarian-cancer/

Is There a Link Between Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer? (2017). Retrieved from https://www.womenshealth.northwestern.edu/blog/there-link-between-talcum-powder-and-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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