A seemingly innocent product you may have in your bathroom is capable of causing ovarian cancer, according to thousands of lawsuits and three jury verdicts.
The substance is talc powder, which is commonly used in baby powder and other cosmetic products. The most popular baby powder is sold by corporate giant Johnson & Johnson, which has used talc in its baby powder for more than 130 years.
Talc has long been thought to be safe, but recent litigation has brought that into question. Within only the past year, Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay nearly $200 million to three women who suffered from ovarian cancer after using the company’s baby powder.
- February 2016: A St. Louis jury awarded $72 million to the family of an Alabama woman who died of ovarian cancer. The family’s attorney successfully argued that talc was to blame.
- May 2016: A South Dakota woman was awarded $55 million after filing a suit against Johnson & Johnson. She had used the company’s baby powder for more than 35 years before she developed ovarian cancer.
- October 2016: Another St. Louis jury awarded $70.1 million to a California woman who also developed ovarian cancer after using baby powder.
These incidents are not isolated. There are currently about 2,000 similar lawsuits pending in court. A fourth talc trial began in late February 2017, and it alleges that Johnson & Johnson withheld the cancer risk from the public. An expert who examined tissue samples from the plaintiff testified that her reproductive organs were permeated with talc particles.
These talc cases serve as a reminder that we have no choice but to trust that the products we buy are safe unless we are told otherwise. Companies have a legal and moral obligation to offer safe products to the public, and consumers deserve to be warned of any potential risks. Unlike a headache or drowsiness, ovarian cancer is no minor side effect and those affected are rightfully seeking justice.