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Does Baby Powder Cause Cancer?

Baby powder, also known as talcum powder, holds a nostalgic place in our hearts. The powdery white snow often conjures up powerful memories of childhood, safety, and love. But is this seemingly harmless cosmetic powder actually a dangerous consumer product in certain circumstances? While the powder has been a symbol of freshness and cleanliness for years, baby powder's link to cancer has become more prominent in recent years. Over 1,400 talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson, the main manufacturer of talcum powder, for allegedly causing ovarian cancer and failing to warn consumers of the known risks.

If you're wondering "does baby powder cause cancer," you've come to the right place. Follow along as FindLaw gives you an overview of the Johnson & Johnson talcum powder cancer issues, including the possible link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, what you should know about baby powder, and suggestions on what you should do next if you or someone you know has been affected by it.

The Link Between Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer

Talcum powder is processed from a soft mineral compound of magnesium silicate, simply known as "talc." The beauty product has been in existence since 1894 when Johnson & Johnson introduced it to consumers. Yet, concerns about its safety cropped up in the early 1970s when British researchers conducted a study of ovarian tumors and found talc particles embedded in them. Since that time, an increasing number of studies have found possible links between talc and ovarian cancer.

To be clear, the medical research into whether talcum powder causes ovarian cancer in women who apply it to their genitals is still considered "inconclusive." Studies of personal use of talcum powder have had mixed results, although there is some suggestion of an increased risk of ovarian cancer by agencies such as the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC, part of the World Health Organization), who have classified the genital use of talc as "possibly carcinogenic."

What You Should Know About Talcum Powder

There are several important things to know about the use of talcum powder:

  • The American Cancer Society (ACS) maintains that the link between talc and ovarian cancer is unclear.
  • The specific concern regarding talc has to do with the way it gets into a woman's ovaries. The suggestion is that talc in the form of talcum powder can travel up through the fallopian tubes, into her reproductive tract, and embed itself into a woman's ovaries.
  • African American women who reported using talcum powder have a higher rate of ovarian cancer. Beginning in the 1990s, Johnson & Johnson specifically targeted African American women in its marketing strategy. This was revealed through an internal company document made public in the recent lawsuits.
  • Johnson & Johnson continues to deny the allegations of talcum powder as carcinogenic, claiming there isn't enough statistical data to prove a link to cancer of any kind.
  • Johnson & Johnson is not required to place a warning label on their talcum powder bottles because it is considered a "cosmetic product" by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is, therefore, not regulated. Johnson & Johnson does place a limited warning label on the product, advising consumers that the powder is for "external use only" and to keep it away from a child's face to avoid inhalation.

Seeking out Medical Attention

If you are concerned about using talcum powder, consider avoiding or discontinuing its use until more information becomes available. If you or someone you know is experiencing any reproductive health problems related to talcum powder, get proper medical attention immediately. A doctor will be able to provide you with the appropriate medical advice on what to do next.

Get Peace of Mind: Let an Attorney Help With Your Baby Powder Claim

Receiving a positive diagnosis for ovarian cancer is devastating. If you've used Johnson & Johnson brand talcum powder and are concerned about whether it caused your illness, you may be owed compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and more. Get the help you need today by contacting a product liability attorney experienced with these kinds of claims. 

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