Talcum powder is made from talc, a naturally occurring mineral consisting of magnesium, silicon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Talc is an ingredient in such products as balloons, cosmetics, including eye shadow and blush, rice, chewing gum, and in manufacturing tablets. Talcum powder is a popular product among consumers because of its ability to absorb moisture, reduce friction, and prevent rashes. Learn More.
Studies have suggested that ovarian cancer is a result of talc particles traveling through the vagina, uterus, and fallopian tubes to the ovaries. One of the first talcum powder cancer studies was conducted in Wales in 1971. Researchers analyzed 30 ovarian cancer tumors and discovered talc particles in 10 tumors. The first case-control study associating genital talc use with ovarian cancer was conducted in 1982, by Dr. Daniel Cramer, an epidemiologist. Dr. Cramer conducted another study released in 2016 that found women who routinely apply talcum powder to their genital area have a 33 percent higher risk of ovarian cancer.
With increasing concerns and continued litigation over talcum powder products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that its Women’s Health Office plans to investigate the effect of talc on the female genital system tissues.
The first federal talcum powder cancer lawsuit involved a 56-year-old South Dakota woman who used J&J’s Baby Powder for 30 years and developed ovarian cancer in 2006. The case went to trial and the jury found J&J failed to adequately warn consumers about the cancer risk but did not award any damages. (Case No. 4:09-cv-04179, U.S. District Court, District of South Dakota)
This was not the case in the 22nd District Court in St. Louis, Missouri where talcum powder trials against J&J were held in 2016. In one trial, a South Dakota woman who was diagnosed with stage 1 cancer after years of talcum powder use was awarded $55 million. The trial followed one for a 62-year-old Alabama woman who used talcum powder for 30 years and succumbed to ovarian cancer in 2015. Her family was awarded a record $72 million in their case. In May 2016, a California woman who had used talcum powder products for 50 years was awarded $70 million by the state court jury.
More talcum powder cancer trials are expected since lawsuits are also pending in New Jersey’s Atlantic County Superior Court, Los Angeles County Superior Court, Superior Court of Delaware, and the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey. The majority of cases are filed in the 22nd District Court in St. Louis.