Talc is a soft mineral that absorbs moisture, soothes skin, reduces smells, and prevents caking. As a result, its use in commercial products ranges from baby powder and deodorant to makeup and moisturizing lotion. Unfortunately, critics say, it may also cause cancer.
Concerns about talcum powder’s safety have existed since at least the 1970s. But in recent decades, the scrutiny has become an avalanche. In the past 15 years, nearly 40,000 talcum powder lawsuits were filed against the product’s largest manufacturer: Johnson & Johnson.
The Link Between Talcum Powder and Cancer
Talc is generally considered harmless when applied to the skin. Concerns arise, however, when it enters the body. For that reason, most questions about whether talcum powder causes cancer involve people inhaling it or applying it to their genital region.
Because talcum powder particles can travel through the reproductive tract, many studies have focused on uterine and ovarian cancers. Research is ongoing, but results so far have been mixed. Some studies show no increased cancer risk, while others suggest talcum powder may be dangerous for specific groups, such as post-menopausal women.
Talcum powder is also a known respiratory irritant. Despite the product’s marketing as “baby powder,” the American Pediatric Association recommends against using talcum powder on infants because it can damage their delicate lungs. Complicating matters is talc’s potential contamination with asbestos, which has long been known to cause lung cancer.
The Link Between Talcum Powder and Asbestos
Asbestos and talc belong to similar groups of minerals that are often found in the same area. When talc is mined and processed, it can mix with asbestos. While the dangers of talc alone are less clear, the hazards of asbestos are well known. Because it causes a particular kind of cancer called mesothelioma, asbestos has been classified as a known human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Talcum Powder Cancer Lawsuits
Critics argue that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and talcum powder manufacturers downplayed asbestos concerns for decades. As recently as 2019, tests were still finding contamination, with nearly 20% of talcum powder products containing asbestos. As a result, some batches of Johson & Johnson baby powder were recalled. In 2020, the brand stopped selling talc-based baby powder altogether.
Talcum powder lawsuits complain that Johnson & Johnson knew their products contained cancer-causing asbestos, but failed to warn consumers. And juries have agreed. The company has paid out astronomical settlement and verdict amounts, including a single award of nearly $5 billion in an ovarian cancer lawsuit. In many such cases, women routinely used Johnson & Johnson talc products for feminine hygiene before being diagnosed with cancer.
Talcum Powder Lawyers
If you or a loved one developed ovarian cancer or another illness after using baby powder, you could be eligible for compensation. Successful talcum powder cancer lawsuits can result in payment for medical costs, lost wages, emotional distress, and even wrongful death.
Altman & Altman LLP is dedicated to seeking justice for individuals and families harmed by talcum powder products. Contact our experienced Boston attorneys for a free consultation anytime day or night!