Lawyers defending Johnson & Johnson in a trial over claims that its talcum powder products should have warned of a link to ovarian cancer told an expert witness who took he stand that they have never before seen a cancer warning on red meat or alcohol at the store. According to a report by Law 360, the testimony is ongoing in a trial involving cancer survivor Nora Daniels, a longtime talcum powder user, who blames J & J for the tumor she developed and had removed in 2013.
Lack of Warning on Talc
The expert who was on the stand was Washington University’s Graham Colditz who was talking about the body of epidemiological research comparing cancer rates of talc users to those of nonusers. Colditz testified that the studies have found a higher likelihood of ovarian cancer in users. He also said during his testimony that medical agencies have decided to flag the mineral as a risk.
J & J defense attorneys as they cross-questioned Colditz strategically compared talc to a number of other substances such as aloe vera, which is also used in several cosmetic products, but is also classified as a possible carcinogen. They also brought up everyday items like coffee, alcohol and red meat. One of the attorneys asked Colditz: “There is no cancer warning for alcohol that you might buy at the store, right? You’ve never seen a…cancer warning on red meat at the store, have you?”
Link Between Talc and Ovarian Cancer
Fore more than three decades, researchers have raised the likelihood of the link between talc, a soft mineral that is commonly used in cosmetic products, and ovarian cancer. Hundreds of women have filed lawsuits nationwide against J & J and talc mining company Imerys alleging that using talcum powder in the genital area caused them to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
But J & J has consistently maintained that the link has not been proven. In this trial, the attorneys, by comparing talc to red meat and alcohol, seem to be mocking the body of research on this subject. As recently as last month, doctors at the Tisch Cancer Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan found a statistically significant link between women’s talcum powder use and ovarian cancer. And yet J & J and its attorneys continue to defend these products and continue to sell them to unsuspecting consumers.