Doctors in Manhattan have discovered a small, but statistically significant link, between women’s talcum powder use and ovarian cancer. According to a report on Newsday.com, researchers at The Tisch Cancer Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital reported their findings in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention. The study and its results were drawn from a meta-analysis and also re-examined several so-called prospective studies that involved 302,000 patients with ovarian cancer.
Strong Link Between Talc and Cancer
Talcum powder’s main ingredient is highly purified talc, which is a soft mineral that consists of elements such as magnesium, silicon, oxygen and hydrogen. Researchers found that women who used talcum powder in their genital area faced a 20 percent higher risk of ovarian cancer compared to women who did not use it. Johnson & Johnson faces hundreds of lawsuits relating to its talcum powder products from women who say they suffered ovarian cancer as a result of using the products.
Company officials and their attorneys have maintained that there is no such link between talc use and ovarian cancer. So far, three cases have won large jury awards. Most recently, in October, jurors in St. Louis awarded $70 million to a California woman who said she used J & J’s baby powder for years before she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Some cases have also ended in the company’s favor because judges ruled there wasn’t sufficient evidence that talc causes ovarian cancer.
Understanding the Risks
According to the American Cancer Society, 22,000 new ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed each year nationwide. About 14,000 women die of the disease each year. More women die of ovarian cancer than any other cancers associated with the female reproductive system. A majority of ovarian cancers are diagnosed at a late state, minimizing the chances for a cure. This happens because there is no formal screening method.
In addition to baby powder, talc is also used widely in a number of cosmetics, diaper rash products, deodorants and flea and tick powders for pets. Studies show that women use talc-containing powders for feminine hygiene purposes, but doctors these days are cautioning them to avoid these products.
Despite a number of studies that have shown a link between talc products and cancer, Johnson & Johnson has doubled down and maintained that its powder products are safe for consumer use. In fact, they have aggressively marketed these products over the years to women encouraging them to use these products for feminine hygiene. This is a company that must be held for marketing these dangerous talcum powder products to women in spite of having known that they pose a risk for ovarian cancer.