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Understanding Emerging Complications and Lawsuits with Talcum Powder

The images of happy, smiling babies and women with fresh and beautiful skin have been used in ads for talcum powder for generations. It’s a common household product that has been promoted for its ability to absorb moisture, reduce odor, and eliminate friction or chafing. It is a product marketed as safe enough to use on babies and is readily available over the counter. Not only that, but it gives skin a clean, pleasant scent for people of all ages. And who doesn’t like that?

Unfortunately, just because a product is widely available, commonly used, or marketed as totally benign and safe, doesn’t mean that it actually is free of risk.

Indeed, a growing number of studies have found that the use of talcum powder in the genital area may increase a risk of women developing ovarian cancer as time goes on. For many women, talcum powder has been something they’ve used on a daily or regular basis as part of their general hygiene for many years, often since they were young.

What is Talcum Powder?

Talcum powder is made up of magnesium silicate and is found in a rock-like clay all over the world. Over 100 years ago, people realized that the talc helped reduce diaper rash in babies and since then, it has become commonly used in a wide variety of consumer products, most often in hygiene products. These talc deposits can be found in nature near asbestos deposits where there exists the possibility of cross contamination. In its natural form, talcum has trace amounts of asbestos— another mineral that was popular in a number of applications until the link between asbestos and mesothelioma (a deadly and aggressive cancer) were irrefutable.

Talcum powder is most often marketed as talc powder, baby powder, or body powder. Johnson & Johnson sold a popular powder branded Shower to Shower.

Women who apply the talcum powder directly to the genital or perineal area, or who apply it to sanitary napkins or towels, have been found to have a higher association with ovarian cancer, since this powder can then travel into the vagina, uterus, or fallopian tubes where it can become inflamed.

Medical Warnings

Numerous studies over the past few years have found an increased risk of cancer. Cancer Prevention Research published a study in 2013 which examined nearly 9,000 cases and found there was a modest increased risk of ovarian cancer when compared to women who never used the powder. A 2003 study found a statistically significant result that suggested a 33% increased risk of ovarian cancer in women using talc.

While the science still needs to be further developed to explain what exactly the link between talcum powder and the development of cancer is, the preliminary evidence shows that it doubles or even triples the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Ovarian Cancer

Any form of cancer is terrifying and potentially life-threatening, but some forms of cancer are more aggressive and dangerous than others. Ovarian cancer is one of the more dangerous forms because there are very few symptoms in the early stages, meaning that the cancer has often had the chance to spread before it is discovered. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 20,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the United States each year.

The five-year cancer survival rate for ovarian cancer is approximately 44%. But the prognosis for it depends on factors like the general health of the patient, the age of the woman, and most importantly, the stage of the cancer. Unfortunately, approximately 68% of ovarian cancers are only diagnosed after the cancer has spread.


While the vast majority of reported complications have occurred to women as a result of using talcum powder in the genital region and subsequently developing ovarian cancer, there have been other complications related to mesothelioma and other respiratory issues.

This is due to the talcum powder becoming airborne during normal application and then ingested into the lungs. As mentioned there may be trace amounts of asbestos that occurs naturally in talcum powder, but researches have also noted that talc powder contains a chemical similarity and crystalline structure much like asbestos. The simple inhalation of these minerals can cause irritation which leads to chronic inflammation and can lead to the formation of cancerous tumors. This type of complication affects both men and women.

A recent lawsuit was filed and won by a man who developed mesothelioma and argued that his only possible exposure to asbestos was through regularly use of talcum powder. As anyone who has used talcum powder knows, it is very difficult to keep the powder from becoming airborne which results in us inhaling small amounts, sometimes without really noticing.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has actually recommended that parents no longer use baby powder while changing diapers because of the serious lung damage it can cause to babies when it is inhaled. It would appear that talcum powder poses the more serious threat, but even cornstarch-based powders can be inhaled and cause respiratory problems for babies.

Legal Troubles Mount

Beginning in 2014, Johnson & Johnson became the subject of several federal class action lawsuits as a result of the increasing evidence of these links. These lawsuits allege that Johnson & Johnson was negligent in failing to warn consumers about the hidden and long-term risks of ongoing use of their product and the higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. It is safe to assume that the thousands of women who have been wrapped up in litigation involving talcum powder and ovarian cancer would have done things differently had they known about these risks earlier. The question then emerges as to when Johnson & Johnson and other manufacturers knew about the possible risks and what did they do as a result? All too often in these types of cases, we find that companies put profits ahead of people, and thousands suffer as a result.

If you or a loved one has developed ovarian cancer or mesothelioma following frequent and regular use of talcum powder, then you may be able to seek justice for the pain and suffering you have had to endure. While no amount of money can cure the cancer or undo what has already been done, it can help cover the costly medical bills and it may help make a difference for other families. It is important that we as a society hold big companies accountable when their actions can cause such widespread harm and suffering and in doing so, we may be able to make a difference and prevent other families from suffering as well.

Being diagnosed with cancer is a devastating blow but finding out that it may be the result of a common household product that was marketed as being safe enough for babies makes it even more difficult to comprehend. The attorneys at Fears Nachawati understand the frustration and anguish felt by those suffering from complications that they were never warned about, and we are fully prepared to fight on behalf of those who have been diagnosed with cancer as a result of using talcum powder.

If you or someone you know has developed ovarian cancer or mesothelioma as a result of frequent and regular use of talcum powder, then the legal team at Fears Nachawati may be able to help you hold the responsible parties accountable. Contact the experienced legal team at Fears Nachawati for a free, no obligation legal consultation to discuss the specifics of your case. Please call (866) 705-7584 or visit the offices of Fears Nachawati located throughout the great state of Texas, including in Houston, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, and San Antonio.

Medical Malpractice