Legal trouble confronts Johnson & Johnson regarding its talcum powder products. A pending California class action lawsuit maintains that Johnson’s Baby Powder and the company's other baby powder products can cause a greater risk of ovarian cancer. The California class action contends that Johnson & Johnson has known for at least thirty years that its talcum baby powder products were linked to a higher risk of ovarian cancer, but failed to warn consumers about the danger.
Studies indicate that talcum powder can contribute to ovarian cancer if talcum particles enter the body through the vagina. One report showed that women who often use talcum powder for feminine hygiene may have a 41% increase in their risk of developing ovarian cancer. Yet talcum powder remains on the market unregulated and without sufficient warnings about all of its risks. The labels on Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder products do contain some warnings, such as keeping the powder away from eyes, avoid inhaling the powder, and that it's for external use only. But the product labels include no warning about the increased risk of ovarian cancer.
The first study of Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder and ovarian cancer was completed in 1971. That research of ovarian cancer patients demonstrated talc particles in their ovarian tissues. After the 1971 report, numerous other studies suggested a link between talc and ovarian cancer. A 1992 study concluded that frequent use of baby powder tripled ovarian cancer risk. The American Cancer Society refers to a 2008 report that found a likely increased cancer risk from the use of talcum products. A 2010 Harvard report likewise warned that talc in baby powder was a human carcinogen.
Johnson & Johnson's baby powder problems increased last year. A baby powder/cancer lawsuit was won for the first time in 2013. A federal jury determined that talcum contained in some Johnson & Johnson powders contributed to a woman’s ovarian cancer. The victim in that case used Johnson & Johnson's talcum products for thirty years. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006. The jury concluded that Johnson & Johnson did not warn consumers of a connection between the use of talc-based powder and a greater ovarian cancer risk.
The California class action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson was filed on April 29, 2014. Interestingly, the lawsuit does not yet include personal injury claims because the plaintiff has not developed ovarian cancer. Instead, the class action is focused on fraud -- that the plaintiff would not have purchased Johnson & Johnson talcum products had she known of the ovarian cancer risk. But cases like the California class action and the federal jury verdict have a tendency to increase the level of risk for the product manufacturer as more and more plaintiffs file suit.By Harley Erbe