Johnson’s Baby Powder is a popular household hygiene product. For more than 100 years, Johnson & Johnson marketed its talcum powders as a routine method of maintaining freshness.
Recent investigations into the safety of the lightweight baby powder led to the discovery of a dark, decades-old talcum powder cancer secret, but millions of Americans still douse themselves daily.
Studies + Science
The Next Steps
|Long-term use of baby powder or talcum powder can cause cancer and other life-threatening side effects.||The link to talcum powder cancer was first discovered in the ’70s when researchers uncovered talcum powder particles embedded in ovarian tumors.||Courts found Johnson & Johnson guilty of hiding data linking talcum powder to ovarian cancer.||Knowledge about the controversy is growing, and so are the options for affected families.|
The Truth About Talcum Powders and Cancer
Table of Contents
- 1 The Truth About Talcum Powders and Cancer
- 2 Talcum Powder Studies + Science
- 2.1 Does Talcum Powder Contain Asbestos?
- 2.2 Talcum, Mesothelioma and Other Respiratory Conditions
- 2.3 Talcum and Ovarian Cancer Research
- 2.4 About Ovarian Cancer
- 2.5 About 85% to 90% of malignant ovarian cancers are epithelial ovarian carcinomas.
- 2.6 Ovarian Cancer Statistics
- 2.7 Ovarian cancer will affect 1 in 70 women in the United States over their lifetime and is the deadliest gynecologic cancer (FWC).
- 2.8 Ovarian Cancer and Women of Color
- 3 Regulation Recap
- 4 Anti-Talcum Powder Advocacy
Talcum is a naturally occurring, fine white substance. It’s a combination of minerals, such as magnesium, silicon, oxygen, and hydrogen. As a powder, talcum is primarily used as a drying agent. It can be found in a number of everyday items, like body and shower products, feminine hygiene formulas and women’s cosmetics. Johnson’s Baby Powder is among the most widely used talcum powder product on the market.
Johnson’s Baby Powder is dusted on the genitals of women and babies to absorb moisture, treat diaper rash, mask vaginal odor and reduce chafing in sensitive areas. The manufacturer recommends sprinkling it on babies after “every bath and diaper change,” and on your own body “anytime you want skin to feel soft, fresh, and comfortable.”
Johnson & Johnson (J&J)™ worked to build talcum’s reputation as a safe and effective hygiene method for decades. Family-friendly ads, sometimes specifically targeted to women of color, presented the product as “the kindest powder in the world,” perfect for mom, dad and of course, baby. But the truth isn’t so kind.
Johnson’s Baby Powder is a major commodity for the sixth-largest consumer health company in the world. More than 40 years ago, scientific studies linked talcum, its main ingredient, to ovarian cancer. Until recently, the data has remained buried under the Baby Powder fortune. And because of that, many long-term users will learn of the risks only after receiving a life-changing talcum powder cancer diagnosis.
Talcum Powder Studies + Science
Since the 1970s, research from the U.S. and Europe has shown that the extended use of talcum powder may carry an increased risk. Over the years, more than 20 studies have investigated an association between the cosmetic powder and ovarian cancer. The link, which was first discovered decades ago, prompted European Union officials to prohibit talc-containing products from entering the market.
In the European Union, talcum is one of more than 1,000 chemicals considered too dangerous for use in human cosmetics. Comparatively, as of July 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only taken action on 11 cosmetic substances.
“Under U.S. law, FDA does not have the authority to require cosmetic manufacturers to submit their safety data to FDA, and the burden is on FDA to prove that a particular product or ingredient is harmful when used as intended. We make these decisions based on reliable scientific information available to us,” according to the FDA. “FDA can take other countries’ decisions into consideration, but we can only take action within the legal and regulatory framework for cosmetics in the United States.”
The most commonly used product listed on the FDA’s laws and regulations page is sunscreens in cosmetics. Other cosmetic substances regulated by the FDA include bithionol, chloroform, halogenated salicylanilides, hexachlorophene, mercury compounds and methylene chloride. The agency also regulates chlorofluorocarbon propellants and vinyl chloride in aerosol, in addition to zirconium-containing complexes. Certain cattle materials are also prohibited to protect consumers from mad cow disease.
The FDA argues there is not significant scientific evidence to regulate talcum powder products. However, an outline of the relevant research indicates that certain women who use talc-based powders for many years may be at risk.
Does Talcum Powder Contain Asbestos?
Because talcum powder can be mined from the Earth or produced by industry, it may contain traces of asbestos. In 1976, a study from Mount Sinai Medical Center examined 20 talcum products. The researchers tested baby powders and facial makeup, discovering asbestos, tremolite and anthophyllite asbestos in about half.
A 1976 article published in the New York Times reported that ten of 19 baby powders tested in the Mount Sinai Hospital study were “contaminated with asbestos fibers capable of causing a rare form of chest and abdominal cancer.”
At the time, the study results became widely recognized, making asbestos contamination the main issue with talcum powder. The Personal Care Products Council mandated that today’s “cosmetic-grade talcum powder must contain no detectable fibrous, asbestos minerals.”
Talcum, Mesothelioma and Other Respiratory Conditions
When Baby Powder is sprinkled on the body, there’s a chance that particles could be swept into the respiratory system through the mouth or nose. Talcum inhalation is problematic for a number of reasons, and children are particularly vulnerable.
However, avoiding the inhalation of talcum powders is common knowledge. On the labeling for Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder, it says the powder is for “external use only.” It also says to “Keep powder away from child’s face to avoid inhalation.”
Talcum inhalation has been associated with mesothelioma, which is a rare, aggressive form of cancer. About 3000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S., and even in 2018, lawsuits are still being filed against baby powder suppliers for potentially exposing consumers to asbestos.
Inhaling talcum impurities can also lead to a condition known as talcosis. Talcosis is a respiratory illness that affects infants exposed to baby powder. Symptoms of talcosis include breathing irregularities, severe wheezing, persistent coughing, and lung irritation. Long-term exposure can lead to serious pulmonary problems, worsening asthma, pneumonia, and even lung cancer.
Talcum and Ovarian Cancer Research
Issues associated with baby powder inhalation are included on Johnson’s Baby Powder labelin. Despite decades of reserach, an increased risk of ovarian cancer remains marred in secrecy.
In 1971, a British study discovered talcum particles “deeply embedded” in 10 of 13 ovarian tumors. A few years later, in 1982, the link was statistically proven and published in the medical journal Cancer. Researchers continued to find heightened cancer risks throughout the 1980s, finding that talcum use contributed to a 35 percent higher chance of developing the disease.
Though the exact cause of illness is unclear, researchers believe that talcum powder particles can enter the vagina, travel through the uterus and damage the ovaries. The particles can then cause inflammation, pain, and growth of tumor cells. It can take years to clear these contaminants from the body.
Later, in 1993, the National Toxicology Program published a report of carcinogenesis studies of talcum powder in rats and mice. The results showed “some evidence of carcinogenic activity” in male rats and “clear evidence of carcinogenic activity” in female rats. European researchers also found a link between talcum and cancer in animal studies.
“To summarise the evidence in favour of an association, a very large number of studies have found that women who used talcum powder experienced excess risks of ovarian cancer; some results were statistically significant and some were not,” according to the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. “There was some indication in the cohort study of an increase in serious tumours.”
Talcum Powder Cancer – Study Findings
The studies, which found a small but existent association between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, remained largely unpopularized in the mainstream media because they weren’t strong enough to prove direct causation. Researchers are still investigating the talcum powder as a cause for ovarian cancer.
- Fred B. Kilmer, J&J’s scientific director, invents talcum powder.
Vault Guide to the Top Consumer Products Employers
- Talcum particles “deeply embedded” in 10 of 13 ovarian tumors.
The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the British Commonwealth
- Link between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer statistically proven.
- Lifetime genital perineal baby powder use may increase the risk for ovarian cancer.
Obstetrics & Gynecology
- Survey showed an increased risk observed for exposure to talcum powders on sanitary napkins.
- Carcinogenesis studies reported “clear evidence of carcinogenic activity” in female rats.
The National Toxicology Program
- Consumer Labeling Initiative requests warnings or discontinued use of talc.
Cancer Prevention Coalition
- Condom manufacturers stop using talcum powders due to women’s health concerns.
- Genital talcum powder use is associated with a 50 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer.
American Journal of Epidemiology
- Scientific review finds a 33 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer.
- Talcum powder is classified as a 2B carcinogen.
World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer
- Talcum powder use may result in a 33 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer.
- Federal investigation focused on talcum powder and ovarian cancer.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
About Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer is potentially deadly gynecologic cancer. It may begin in the ovaries or the fallopian tubes.
According to Cancer.org, there are three different types of ovarian cancer cells that develop into different types of tumors:
- Epithelial tumors – begins in cells covering the outer surface of the ovary.
- Germ cell tumors – begins from the cells that produce the eggs.
- Stromal tumors – begins from structural tissue cells that hold the ovary together and produce the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Research on talcum powder and ovarian cancer specifically focuses on epithelial ovarian cancer, which may be classified as benign, borderline or malignant. When these tumors are cancerous, or malignant, they develop into carcinomas.
About 85% to 90% of malignant ovarian cancers are epithelial ovarian carcinomas.
Although there is no definite known cause, ovarian cancer may be related to inherited genetic mutations or acquired genetic mutations. The majority of mutations are acquired, through the environment or exposure to carcinogenic chemicals.
Most ovarian tumors are epithelial cell tumors, and there are specific risk factors for this type of ovarian cancer.
On Cancer.gov, the clear and unclear risks are outlined.
- Getting older
- Being overweight or obese
- Having children later or never having full-term pregnancy
- Using fertility treatment
- Taking hormone therapy after menopause
- Having a family history of ovarian cancer, breast cancer, or colorectal cancer
- Having had breast cancer
- Smoking and alcohol use
Though unclear, Cancer.gov also lists additional risks. The unclear risks include:
- Talcum powder
Ovarian Cancer Statistics
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 20,000 U.S. women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. Data estimates than 14,000 women in the United States will die from this disease.
In a study published in 1999, researchers estimated that talcum powder could be the cause of about 10 percent of ovarian cancer cases in the United States. The Foundation for Women’s Cancer asserts that “while ALL WOMEN ARE AT RISK FOR OVARIAN CANCER, some women have a personal or family history that may further substantially increase their risk.”
Ovarian cancer will affect 1 in 70 women in the United States over their lifetime and is the deadliest gynecologic cancer (FWC).
When talcum powder is added to the mix, the risk could increase by about 35 percent—which means one in 50 women may develop talc-related cancer.
“Balanced against what are primarily aesthetic reasons for using talcum powders in genital hygiene, the risk-benefit decision is not complex,” the 1999 study authors said. “Appropriate warnings should be provided to women about the potential risks of regular use of talcum powders in the genital area.”
Ovarian Cancer and Women of Color
A recent study, first published in May 2016, focuses on how talc-related ovarian cancer may disproportionately affect African American women. In the study, researchers interviewed 584 black women with ovarian cancer and 745 black women without ovarian cancer. The women were from the southern, eastern and midwestern U.S.
The study found that women who used talcum powder on their genitals had a more than a 40 percent increased risk of cancer compared to women who used non-genital powder with an increased risk of more than 30 percent.
“In a study of AA women, body powder use was significantly associated with EOC risk,” the researchers wrote. “The results support that body powder is a modifiable risk factor for EOC among AA women.”
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Talcum products are classified as cosmetics, which means they aren’t subject to FDA review. The FDA allows the manufacturer to test their products before introducing them to market, making it the manufacturer’s responsibility to properly warn consumers and label products as safe for use.
“Cosmetic companies have a legal responsibility for the safety and labeling of their products and ingredients, but the law does not require them to share their safety information with FDA,” according to the Food and Drug Administration Talcum Powder website.
However, in 2009, the FDA did send samples to a lab called AMA Analytical Services, Inc. (AMA) of Lanham, MD to test if the baby powder used in the consumer products contained asbestos. The agency’s survey, which only included four samples, did not find asbestos contamination.
“The survey found no asbestos fibers or structures in any of the samples of cosmetic-grade raw material baby powder or cosmetic products containing talc. The results were limited, however, by the fact that only four baby powder suppliers submitted samples and by the number of products tested,” according to the FDA’s Talcum Powder section of its website.
“For these reasons, while FDA finds these results informative, they do not prove that most or all baby powder or talc-containing cosmetic products currently marketed in the United States are likely to be free of asbestos contamination.”
FDA Office of Women’s Health Investigation
In addition to investigating talcum powder for asbestos contamination, the Food and Drug Administration Office of Women’s Health (OWH) is now examining the link between talcum powder, ovarian cancer and other health issues. The Office of Women’s Health (OWH) is the agency’s internal arm, focused on better understanding female wellness through a combination of research, development and outreach.
Created in 1994, OWH influences the FDA’s regulatory decisions to inform women about potential health risks. The mission of the OWH is to “protect and advance the health of women through policy, science, and outreach.”
The office investigates cancers, cardiovascular disease, chronic illness and other reproductive health threats across a woman’s lifespan. OWH breaks down their focus into eight categories, including:
- Breast Cancer/Mammography
- Device Safety
- Sex Differences
- Bioinformatics/Data Mining
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Pregnancy/Reproductive Health
- Women in Clinical Trials
OWH grants funds to support one-to-two-year studies in the focus areas. The agency’s talcum powder study, spearheaded by FDA Director of Cosmetics Nakissa Sadrieh, is called “Non-clinical mechanistic studies in addressing ovarian cancer risk from talcum powder use in cosmetics.”
“Although some epidemiologic and animal studies have examined the relation between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, talc’s effects on female genital system tissues have not been adequately investigated,” Sadrieh wrote on the FDA website about talcum powder.
Sadrieh’s research aims to better understand long-term risks related to talcum exposure, which she believes is of “particular interest to women’s health.” A major goal of Sadrieh’s work is to “fill some of the existing data gaps, in the molecular and genetic events associated with early ovarian oncogenesis, as these are largely unknown.”
She added that the results could “prove to be useful as possible experimental models for further mechanistic studies in ovarian carcinogenesis.”
Researchers have suspected that talcum may cause cancer since the ‘70s. New FDA research will hopefully uncover conclusive talcum powder cancer evidence, spark regulatory restrictions on talcum powder, and assert that women’s health is a top priority.
A number of petitions for more stringent labeling of talc-containing products have been directed to the FDA. The first request came from the Public Citizen Health Research Group in 1978. The agency responded with the belief that all talc-related dangers were caused by asbestos contamination.
A few years later, in 1983, a consumer rights group directed a second petition to the FDA, which was shot down. The Cancer Prevention Coalition (CPC) took up the cause in 1994, prompting the FDA to forcibly add warnings to talcum powder labeling. The CPC tried again in 2008, but both petitions were denied by the FDA.
The National Toxicology Program (NTP), comprised of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA, began investigating baby powder in 2000. Five years later, the substance was withdrawn from review due to “considerable confusion over the mineral nature and consequences of exposure to talc.” The NTP has not revisited the issue.
However, other groups have. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) lists talcum as a ‘2B possible human carcinogen.’ In addition, the American Cancer Society warns women “that talcum powder might cause cancer in the ovaries if the powder particles (applied to the genital area or on sanitary napkins, diaphragms, or condoms) were to travel through the vagina, uterus, and fallopian tubes to the ovary.”
Many people find it hard to believe that a product used to soothe a baby’s skin could cause cancer. It’s important to remember that manufacturers are given the freedom to come up with their advertising strategies, in addition to influencing what’s added to the labeling.
Despite their kingpin status, consumers may still picture Johnson & Johnson as the down-home business from their youth. Johnson & Johnson marketed talcum powder as an essential part of the family healthcare routine. Slogans such as “A sprinkle a day keeps odor away,” and “Your body perspires in more places than just under your arms” graced their ads for decades.
Johnson & Johnson is a power player in the talcum powder industry, with various indications of its size and reach, including:
- The world’s sixth-largest consumer health company
- The world’s most comprehensive medical devices business
- The world’s sixth-largest biologics company
- And the world’s fifth-largest pharmaceuticals company
Now, Johnson & Johnson boasts a net worth $65 billion dollars. In 2015, Fortune Magazine listed J&J as the most admired in the pharmaceutical industry. With 265 companies present in more than 60 countries, it’s nearly impossible to enter a drug store without finding something manufactured by the corporate giant.
J&J’s Data Denial
Johnson & Johnson worked to suppress the data linking talcum to ovarian cancer on a number of occasions. In 1982, Dr. Daniel Cramer, the gynecologist and Harvard Medical School professor who led the talcum powders study published in Cancer, received a visit not soon after. A senior J&J scientist “spent his time trying to convince me that baby powder use was a harmless habit,” Cramer said, according to court documents found on Fair Warning – Talcum Powder.
While the J&J scientist attempted to downplay the results, Cramer said he “spent my time trying to persuade him … that women should be advised of this potential risk.”
Later, when the Cancer Prevention Coalition petitioned the FDA in 1994, the agency responded with the claim that it lacked enough evidence to mandate warnings. Johnson & Johnson refused to voluntarily add warnings to the label. According to Fair Warning, they had been working with Personal Care Products Council (formerly CTFA) on the Talcum Powder Interested Party Task Force to find holes in studies linking talcum powder and cancer two years prior.
In 1997, another scientist, a toxicologist named Alfred P. Wehner, spoke out against Johnson & Johnson’s attempts to bury the research. He sent the corporation two letters, later obtained by FairWarning, in March and September of 1997, urging them to acknowledge the biological significance of the studies.
“There are at least 9 epidemiological studies published in the professional literature describing a statistically significant (albeit weak) association between hygienic talcum powder use and ovarian cancer,” Wehner wrote in a letter. “Anybody who denies this risks that the baby powder industry will be perceived by the public like it perceives the cigarette industry: denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.”
A Timeline of Talcum Powder Lawsuits
Despite numerous attempts to compel Johnson & Johnson to update talcum powder product labeling, the company has yet to comply. As a result of increasing talc-linked cancer diagnoses, the corporation has been pulled into federal court proceedings. More than 4,800 women have sued Johnson & Johnson, imploring the company to inform consumers of the risks.
The legal developments regarding talcum powder, ovarian cancer and mesothelioma have a confusing history. There have been a number of lofty verdicts, though some have been overturned. However, there have been no settlements.
There’s big a difference between talcum powder verdicts and talcum powder settlements. Verdicts are only awarded after a case goes to trial, following a jury’s decision. In a settlement, both parties agree on compensation without going to trial.
There has yet to be a settlement for talcum powder lawsuits. That’s because Johnson & Johnson’s current position is to assert its Baby Powder product isn’t carcinogenic. Aside from the attempt to privately settle the first whistleblowing lawsuit, the company has refused to resolve any other cases with public settlements.
- Nov. 2013
- Deane Berg v. Johnson & Johnson et al.
Verdict, No Compensation | Case number 4:2009cv04179
- Feb. 2016
- Estate of Jacqueline Fox v. Johnson & Johnson et al.
$72 Million Verdict | Case number ED104580
- May 2016
- Gloria Ristesund v. Johnson & Johnson
$55 Million Verdict | Case number 1422-CC09012-01
- Oct. 2016
- Deborah Giannecchini v. Johnson & Johnson et al.
$70 Million Verdict | Case number 1422-CC09012-01
- Feb. 2017
- Swann v. Johnson & Johnson
Mistrial | Case number 1422-CC09326-01
- March 2017
- Nora Daniels v. Johnson & Johnson
Case number 1422-CC09326-01
- May 2017
- Lois Slemp v. Johnson & Johnson et al.
Case number 1422-CC09326-01
- Oct. 2017
- Michael Blaes et al. v. Johnson & Johnson et al.
Case number 1422-CC09326-01
- Oct. 2017
- Eva Echeverria v. Johnson & Johnson et al.
Case number BC628228
- July 2018
- Ingham v. Johnson & Johnson et al.
Case number 1522-CC10417
Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer Lawsuits
In 2009, a South Dakota woman named Deane Berg filed the first talcum powder lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson. Berg, a physician’s assistant in Sioux Falls, was reportedly diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006. The company offered her $1.3 million to settle the case with a confidentiality clause.
Berg refused because she wanted other women to be aware of the potential carcinogenic effects of long-term talcum powder use. In 2013, her case went to court. Though a federal jury agreed that Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder products were a factor in her condition, Berg wasn’t awarded any compensation.
“Although I was surprised that the jury awarded me zero damages — South Dakota is a very conservative state, and there had to be a unanimous verdict on whether any compensation should be paid — it was never about the money,” Berg told in a New York Post article about Talcum Powder in 2016.
“And my case paved the way for plaintiff lawyers to bring claims for hundreds of women who blame their ovarian cancer on exposure to talcum powder. As my lawyer said, I’m the equivalent of the first smokers who sued tobacco companies because of their lung cancer,” Berg said. “The pioneers didn’t receive compensation, but the dangers and the conspiracy were finally exposed.”
In February 2016, a Missouri jury awarded damages to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer. The family of Jacqueline Fox, a St. Louis woman, was awarded $10 million in actual damages, and a further $62 million for punitive damages. Fox used talcum powders for decades.
This was the first suit to award damages in a talcum powder and ovarian cancer case. The jury decided Johnson & Johnson was held liable for hiding the risks of its baby powder product and failing to inform the public about the potential dangers.
Following Fox’s win, a Missouri jury then awarded $55 million in damages to a South Dakota woman named Gloria Ristesund, 62, in May 2016. Ristesund also used talcum powder for decades, and she later received an ovarian cancer diagnosis and required a hysterectomy.
A slew of talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits followed in 2016, which seemed to be the year that the knowledge started to hit home. An estimated 1,8000 lawsuits had been filed in St. Louis by Sept. 2016.
Later, in Oct. 2016, a jury awarded more than $70 million to a California woman who allegedly developed ovarian cancer from Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products. In this case, the jury held the company liable for negligent conduct regarding its Baby Powder product. In Jan. 2017, Johnson & Johnson attempted to relocate the lawsuits to the plaintiff’s hometowns, a motion that was denied by the Missouri Supreme Court.
In March 2017, Johnson & Johnson had one of its only victories in a Missouri court. In the case of Nora Daniels, her lawyers were unable to convince the jury that she developed ovarian cancer from using talcum powder for more than 40 years.
More than 60 women were included in the complaint captioned Swann vs. Johnson & Johnson, which originally included Daniels. Even though they weren’t publicized by the media, each of these women has either suffered with or survived ovarian cancer that they believe was linked to their long-term use of talcum powder.
“All Plaintiffs in this action seek recovery for damages as a result of developing ovarian cancer, which was directly and proximately caused by such wrongful conduct by Defendants, the unreasonably dangerous and defective nature of talcum powder, and the attendant effects of developing ovarian cancer. All of the claims in this action involve common legal and medical issues.,” according to the legal complaint on talcum powder.
Some of the claims were separated following the mistrial. More specifically, Johnson & Johnson won when the representation was unable to convince a jury that Nora Daniels developed ovarian cancer from using talcum powder for more than 40 years. For Michael Blaes, the husband of a woman who used talcum powder and died from ovarian cancer.
A Virginia woman named Lois Slemp, who was originally included in the complaint above, was awarded $110 million by Missouri jury. She received her ovarian cancer diagnosis in 2012.
More recently, Eva Echeverria, a California woman, was awarded $417 million in August 2017. The award marked the largest individual talcum powder cancer verdict to date, which amounted to more than double the requested amount. A Los Angeles Superior Court judge later overturned the verdict.
In July 2018, a jury in Missouri jury ruled in favor of 22 women who developed ovarian cancer after using talcum powder. Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $4.69 billion.
Talcum Powder and Mesothelioma Lawsuits
Though the outline includes the relevant ovarian cancer lawsuits, there have been other lawsuits related to talcum powder and mesothelioma.
In April 2018, a New Jersey jury in New Jersey held Johnson & Johnson and its baby powder supplier liable for $80 million in damages. In the lawsuit, it was indicated that the company acted with “reckless indifference” in the case of Steve Lanzo’s mesothelioma.
One month later, a California jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $4 million in punitive damages for a South Carolina woman’s mesothelioma. Joanne Anderson, a regular bowler, was awarded $21.7 million in compensatory damages.
Johnson & Johnson is facing more than 9,000 lawsuits in state and federal courts.
Anti-Talcum Powder Advocacy
Mothers relied on Johnson’s Baby Powder to soothe their babies, depended on the cosmetic powder to care for their most vulnerable parts, and trusted in J&J household name.
Families also believed the FDA would sound the alarm about potentially dangerous products. But they didn’t.
Teaming Up Against Talcum Powder Cancer
Media outlets and consumer advocacy groups are tracking the impact of baby powder products, sparking new investigations and speaking out against Johnson & Johnson. Bloomberg’s exposé on Johnson’s Baby Powder brought the controversy to the forefront, informing a whole new audience.
Nonprofits like FairWarning and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics work to inform the public about the risks of everyday talcum use. The CSC has taken a strong stance, urging consumers to “Avoid personal care and cosmetic products that contain talcum powder if used in the pelvic area. Choose companies that certify their talcum powders are free of asbestos.”
Detailed investigations and renewed attention have led to helping women fighting ovarian cancers. For many of these women, a dash of baby powder was a normal part of the morning routine. Brigades of activists and successful legal campaigns have mandated that the corporation pays millions of dollars in restitution.
Talcum Powder Abroad
In the Republic of the Philippines, the Food and Drug Administration warned consumers to be aware of the possible risk of using talcum powder products present in hygiene items and cosmetics. The Philippine FDA published a consumer advisory on baby powder on their website, intended for both consumers and manufacturers. The agency reitereated that talcum powder must meet the safety standards set by the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive (ACD).
Manufacturers using baby powder are required to comply with labeling and prove their products do not contain any traces of asbestos. The warning reminds consumers to avoid putting any talcum powders near the faces of children in order to avoid talcum powder inhalation. The FDA has also reached out to the Philippine Cancer Control Program of their Disease Control and Prevention Bureau (DCPB) to review “cancer registry relevant to [talc in products].”
Join the Movement
Talcum products have forever altered the lives of thousands of women and their families. Many of these women have shared their stories to prevent others from being injured by the everyday cosmetic, while others have demanded J&J provide medical assistance.