Johnson & Johnson was recently required to pay $72 million by a Missouri jury to the family of a woman whose death from ovarian cancer was linked to several decades use of the company’s talc-based Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products.
Researchers have studied the possible link between ovarian cancer and talcum powder since an initial study appeared in the British medical journal, The Lancet, in 1971. Subsequent studies determined that women who used talcum powder during ovulation had up to a 92% increased risk of developing ovarian cancer! Some studies reported that a majority of ovarian tumors had talc particles “deeply embedded” in them. Yet, to date, there are no warnings required or voluntarily placed on the products’ labels.
Where is the FDA? Under the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, cosmetics and ingredients, with the exception of color additives, don’t have to undergo FDA review or obtain approval before going on the market. While cosmetics companies have a legal responsibility for the safety and labeling of their products and ingredients, the law doesn’t require them to share proprietary safety information with the FDA. As a result, the FDA can take action to protect public health only when a product has been shown to be harmful. Unless a manufacturer is forthcoming with known hazards, the public is protected only by whistleblowers, substantial numbers of complaints and, ultimately, lawsuits like the Missouri case.
If you or a loved one are in the at-risk group and have used talc products over an extended period of time, we’d recommend stopping use of the products and a medical checkup as soon as possible for this silent, virulent disease, especially if you have any of the following symptoms:
Abdominal bloating or swelling
Quickly feeling full upon eating
Changes in bowel habits, like constipation
Frequent need to urinate