Johnson & Johnson Has Been Lying to You for 40 Years about Cancer and Talcum Powder

Dangerous drugs
talcum powder

By Larry Bodine, Esq., Editor of The National Trial Lawyers and Editor of Mass Tort Nexus

When you use talcum powder, you think of the clean, classic scent and the silky smooth feeling it gives to your skin. You don’t think about it causing cancer, which is exactly what Johnson & Johnson wants you to think.

Shocking court records reveal that Johnson & Johnson has known for 40 years about the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, but it has never bothered to warn consumers who use its Baby Powder and Shower to Shower Powder.

The truth came out on May 2 when jurors blasted the cosmetics company with a $55 million verdict for hiding the cancer connection, distorting research about the talcum-cancer connection and lying to the public. The damage recovery went to Gloria Ristesund of Sioux Falls, SD, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 after using J&J’s talc-based feminine hygiene products for four decades.

Another jury in the same courthouse awarded $72 million on February 22 to the family of Jacqueline Fox of Birmingham, AL, who used Johnson’s baby powder for 35 years. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013 and died last year.

For decades, according to the plaintiffs, J&J and its lobby the Talc Interested Party Task Force (TIPTF) distorted scientific papers to prevent talc from being classified as a carcinogen.

As a result, J&J is facing now 1,200 lawsuits in Missouri and New Jersey, charging it with fraud, negligence, conspiracy, and failing to warn consumers about the cancer risks.

A toxic mineral

Talc is a mineral mined in China that is made up magnesium and silicon. As a powder, it absorbs moisture well and helps reduce friction. In 2006, the Canadian government classified talc as a “very toxic,” “cancer causing” substance under its Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System.

In the same year, Johnson & Johnson’s talc supplier — Imerys Talc — began placing warnings on the talc it sold to Johnson & Johnson. These warning included information from the World Health Organization and also the Canadian Government’s “cancer causing” classification.

Johnson & Johnson kept all the warnings to itself.

Cancer risk identified in the 1970s

The risk of ovarian cancer is one-third higher among women who regularly powdered their genitals with talc, according to a 2016 study in Epidemiology.

Numerous research studies have shown the connection between talcum powder and ovarian cancer:

  • In 1971 study conducted conducted by Dr. W.J. Henderson and others in Cardiff, Wales, suggested an association between talc and ovarian cancer.

  • In 1982, the first epidemiologic study was performed on talc powder use in the female genital area. Conducted by Dr. Daniel Cramer and others, the study found a 92% increased risk in ovarian cancer with women who reported genital talc use.

  • Since then, there have been approximately 22 additional epidemiologic studies providing data regarding the association of talc and ovarian cancer. Nearly all of these studies have reported an elevated risk for ovarian cancer associated with genital talc use in women.

  • In 1993, the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) published a study on the toxicity of non-asbestiform talc and found clear evidence of carcinogenic activity. Talc was found to be a carcinogen, with or without the presence of asbestos-like fibers.

Yet to this day, Johnson & Johnson does not pass the warning on to consumers. Instead, J&J is appealing the jury awards, saying, “(The verdict) goes against 30 years of studies by medical experts around the world that continue to support the safety of cosmetic talc.”


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