Johnson & Johnson Found Liable in Baby Powder Lawsuit
Talc is used in a number of cosmetic and personal hygiene products, such as baby powder and feminine body powders. But new evidence and a recent lawsuit suggested that, despite its widespread use, talcum powder could be incredibly dangerous.
Last fall, a federal jury in Sioux Falls found Johnson & Johnson liable for a woman’s ovarian cancer that was attributed to her use of Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products. Deane Berg had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006 and, according to the lawsuit, she had used Johnson & Johnson talc-based hygiene products, including Shower to Shower body powder, for about 30 years.
According to three doctors who had analyzed Berg’s cancer tissue, talc was found using a scanning electron microscope and the body powder was determined to be cause. In fact, one of those doctors, Dr. Daniel Cramer of Harvard University who has studied the link between talc and cancer for 30 years, testified that talc is probably a contributing factor in about 10,000 cases of ovarian cancer each year.
New evidence further supports the doctors’ claims in the lawsuit that talc can cause ovarian cancer. As we reported, a new study indicates that women who regularly use talcum powder for feminine hygiene purposes have a 24 percent increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Evidence of the link between talc and ovarian cancer has been around since the 1970s when researchers first detected talc fibers in the ovarian tissues of women diagnosed with cancer. Acccording to the American Cancer Society, an analysis combining data from 16 studies published before 2003 found about a 30% increase in ovarian risk among talc users and suggested that additional research is necessary given the widespread use of talc in a number of cosmetic and hygiene products.
Although the jury in the Berg trial did not award the plaintiff any damages, it did say that Johnson & Johnson should warn consumers of the link between ovarian cancer and the use of talc-based body powder for feminine hygiene, which could open the door for product liability and failure to warn lawsuits to be filed.
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