New Research Finds Elevated Risk of Ovarian Cancer with Talc Use

Genital Talc Use Linked to 20 Percent Increased Risk of Cancer

New findings published this month in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention found that genital use of talcum powder is associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer. The study, which re-analyzed data from over two dozen previous studies, found an elevated risk of 20 percent. The research emerges at a time when talcum powder and ovarian cancer are a topic being considered in courtrooms. Johnson & Johnson is continuing to face lawsuits alleging that its talcum powder products, including Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower, caused ovarian cancer.

The product liability attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP have decades of experience representing clients in lawsuits over allegedly defective or dangerous products. The firm, which keeps up-to-date with talcum powder ovarian cancer research, continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit.

Researchers conducted a meta-analysis, a type of study that looks at data from multiple studies to identify possible trends in a body of research. Authors analyzed data from 24 case-control studies and three cohort studies, involving 302,705 women with ovarian cancer. Dr. Paolo Boffetta, associate director for cancer prevention at The Tisch Cancer Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital and a former chief of environmental cancer epidemiology with the World Health Organization, led the study.

“Overall, it is about a 20 percent higher risk for women who say they used talc, compared to women who say they did not use it,” Boffetta said, according to Newsday. However, he cautioned that, while there is a statistically significant association, the study does not prove a causal relationship. “It would be premature to conclude that talc use causes ovarian cancer,” the cancer expert said. The authors also do not have evidence of a mechanism by which talc would cause ovarian cancer.

The findings give doctors more reason to advise against the talcum powder for feminine hygiene, Newsday reports. The newspaper stated in a summary of the findings, “Studies suggest some women regularly use talc-containing powders for feminine hygiene purposes, but doctors are cautioning them to avoid the products.”

Each year, 22,000 women are newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 14,000 women die of ovarian cancer, statistics from the American Cancer Society show. Ovarian cancer is the most lethal among cancers of the female reproductive system. Physicians say that most cases of ovarian cancer are sporadic, meaning the diagnosis cannot be linked to an exact cause. Furthermore, because symptoms are vague, women may not be diagnosed until the cancer has advanced to late stages.

“The whole issue of talcum powder is seen as a possible agent. We don’t have strong links. Anything that can get in the peritoneal cavity can increase the risk,” said Dr. Eva Chalas, chief of gynecologic oncology and vice-chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, according to Newsday. “We discourage patients from using anything that increases irritation or inflammation.”

Additionally, Dr. Chalas noted that, since there is no screening for ovarian cancer, precautions are advised.

Overall, the study found a small, but statistically significant association between genital use of talcum powder and serous carcinoma, the most common form of ovarian cancer.

J&J Faces Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Lawsuits

Parker Waichman comments that J&J is facing mounting talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits. The company is accused of failing to disclose the risk of ovarian cancer with its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower. Talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits were consolidated into a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) in New Jersey before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson.

When there are many lawsuits with common questions of fact, they are sometimes consolidated into an MDL in one court. This type of mass tort helps the process move along faster, since the legal proceedings are streamlined.

J&J was hit with three multimillion dollar talcum powder verdicts in 2016, fueling litigation. The most recent verdict totaled $70 million; jurors found for a California woman who used talcum powder in the genital region for 45 years. The lawsuit filed on her behalf alleges that using talcum powder for feminine hygiene caused her stage 4 ovarian cancer. She alleged that J&J failed to disclose the risks.

Two other talcum powder ovarian cancer trials produced verdicts of $72 million and $55 million.

J&J will face more talcum powder litigation this year, with another trial scheduled to begin next month. The talcum powder ovarian cancer claims involve six talcum powder plaintiffs.

Talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits cite studies to support allegations. Plaintiffs allege that J&J should have paid closer attention to these findings and issued a cautionary warning for its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower. For example, lawsuits reference findings published in 1971 discussing talc particles embedded in ovarian tumors. One study published in 1982 also suggested an increased risk of ovarian cancer with talc. Overall, studies have produced mixed results.

In addition to individual talc lawsuits, class action lawsuits are also filed. Court records show that one talcum powder class action lawsuit was recently filed on behalf of 81 plaintiffs. Similar to other talcum powder ovarian cancer claims, the lawsuit alleges that talcum powder led to ovarian cancer. The suit alleges that the cancer resulted from the “unreasonably dangerous and defective nature of talcum powder and [Johnson & Johnson’s] wrongful and negligent conduct in the research, development, testing, manufacture, production, promotion, distribution, marketing, and sale of talcum powder.”

Talc is a mineral mostly made of magnesium, silicon and oxygen. Talcum powder is frequently added to cosmetic and personal products because it absorbs excess moisture and reduces friction. As a baby powder, it is used to keep skin dry and prevent diaper rash. Talc is also present in many adult body and facial powders. Talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits are filed on behalf of women who used talc-based products in the genital or perineal region, on sanitary napkins or in their underwear for feminine hygiene.

Questions about Talcum Powder Lawsuits?

If you or someone you know wants to learn more about filing a talcum powder lawsuit, contact the personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman today. Our firm offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).

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