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Lawsuit Blames Johnson & Johnson's Talcum Powder For Ovarian Cancer

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, December 11, 2009 4:51 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Talc, Talcum Powder, Johnson and Johnson, Ovarian Cancer, National Cancer Institute, Reproductive Health

Woman has filed suit against Johnson & Johnson and two mining companies for failing to warn about talcum powder and the link to ovarian cancer.

Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer



IMAGE SOURCE: Female reproductive system graphic/ National Cancer Institute Web site

Talc is the world’s softest rock used to make a variety of products including soap, fertilizers, antacids, makeup, and baby powder.

But for years critics, including the Cancer Prevention Society, have been saying that the minute fibers contained in talc, which are very similar to asbestos, can cause cancer.

Deane Berg, 52, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is now suing Johnson and Johnson and two mining companies for failing to warn consumers about the possibility of contracting ovarian cancer from talcum power.

Berg says she used powder in her genital area every day after showering from 1975 to 2007 and found out she had contracted ovarian cancer in 2006.

In her federal lawsuit, she says that talc caused her cancer and the mines and companies that sell the powder failed to warn the public, reports the Argus Leader.

"It's the classic definition of why we need product liability lawsuits,” says her lawyer R. Allen Smith. Proving causation will be the key to the case, though that is difficult since cancer takes years to develop.

Smith points to a Harvard University study in 2008 that suggests women who use talc once a week might be increasing their risk by 36 percent. Daily users risk of ovarian cancer jumped by 41 percent.

The American Cancer society urges women to use cornstarch-based powders if they are worried.

The government in Great Britain has acknowledged the possible risk while Berg’s lawyers say the U.S. government has know about the link since 1982. Companies that market talc-based products without a warning label are guilty of negligence, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in South Dakota.

Besides Johnson & Johnson, mining company Luzenac America and its parent company Rio Tinto Minerals are added as defendants.

Consumers can look on the Web site of the National Cancer Institute which has additional information about the risk of using talc near the vaginal area.

In 1994, Dr. Samuel Epstein of the Cancer Prevention Coalition, wrote to then FDA Commissioner, Dr. David Kessler presenting a citizen petition seeking carcinogenic labeling on all cosmetic talk products.

The environmental scientists said that research done as early as 1961 showed particles similar to talc and asbestos particles can locate from the exterior genitals to ovaries in women. He pointed to the unexpected high rates of mortality from ovarian cancer in female asbestos workers.

In his latest book, Toxic Beauty, Dr. Samuel Epstein says, “Unbelievably, the FDA has recklessly failed to protect us from toxic ingredients in cosmetics and personal-care products for the last six decades. What’s more, the mainstream industry has remained criminally indifferent to the dangers of their products. In sharp contrast, European regulations ban all products containing toxic ingredients.”

Ovarian cancer strikes more than 21,000 women a year and leads to about 14,000 deaths annually. Often it is without symptoms.

It is the leading cause of death from cancer of the female reproductive system. #

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