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Talc FAQs

Talc is used in everyday household products worldwide and found in the bathroom cabinets of many Americans, however, it is not without controversy. McDonald Law Firm is currently reviewing claims for women who have developed ovarian cancer following the routine use of talcum powder for perennial hygiene to determine if they may be eligible to file a talcum powder lawsuit. Additionally, family members of women who developed ovarian cancer may also have grounds to for a lawsuit.

Call us at 877-803-2897 for a free and confidential consultation.

What is talc?

Talc is found in thousands of everyday products.

Talc rocks are dug out of the ground at large mines scattered across the globe. People often think of talc as white, but it can also be gray, green, blue or pink. After talc rocks are excavated, they are ground into fine powder, cleaned, and packaged for commercial use. Talc is found in thousands of products we use every day, including body powders, cosmetics, tires, paint and paper.

And while talc is used in everyday household products worldwide, it is not without controversy. Because talc is dug from the ground, it can be interlaced with asbestos – naturally occurring minerals that can cause fatal diseases in those who inhale its microscopic fibers. Only the purest grades of talc are supposed to go into body powders and cosmetics, but the industry largely monitors itself.

Over the years, contaminated talc has been blamed for mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by asbestos. Even without asbestos, talc has been on the receiving end of countless negative reports, studies and litigation.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against using talc-based baby powder, saying it could cause respiratory problems if inhaled by infants. Researchers and medical experts are now also cautioning women against using it for feminine hygiene, pointing to a growing body of evidence linking long-term use to an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

Currently, hundreds of lawsuits are pending against healthcare conglomerate Johnson & Johnson, which has been marketing and selling talc products for decades. The suits allege J&J has long known about the link between talc and ovarian cancer, but failed to warn consumers in order to protect their bottom line.

Is talc carcinogenic?

In its natural form, some talc contains asbestos, which is a known carcinogen if inhaled. Since the 1970’s, all domestic talcum products are required to be asbestos-free. Studies on asbestos-free talc are ongoing.

Studies on talc’s link to cancer are commonly grouped into two categories:

Lung Cancer Studies: Focus on whether people whose work required long-term exposure to and inhalation of natural talc fibers increases their risk for lung cancer. Some studies of talc miners and millers have suggested an increased risk of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases.

Ovarian Cancer Studies: Focus on whether women who routinely apply talcum powder to their genital area increases their risk of ovarian cancer. Some studies indicate 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.

What expert agencies say:

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)
As part of the World Health Organization (WHO), the IARC’s primary focus is to identify and categorize known causes of cancer. They have classified talc accordingly:

  • Talc that contains asbestos is classified as “carcinogenic to humans.”
  • When inhaled, non-asbestos containing talc is “not classifiable as to carcinogenicity in humans” based on the lack of data from human studies and on limited data in lab animal studies.
  • The perineal (genital) use of talc-based body powder is classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” based on limited evidence from human studies.

US National Toxicology Program (NTP)
Formed from parts of several different government agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the NTP has not fully reviewed talc (with or without asbestos) as a possible carcinogen.

Have doctors found talc in ovaries of cancer victims?

It’s not uncommon for doctors to find talc in ovaries of cancer-stricken women who used Baby Powder for personal hygiene. Because it can take years for talcum powder to fully dissolve inside the body, pathologists can examine tissue samples to determine whether talc particles are present.

Pathology reports can be powerful evidence.

The first evidence of talc in ovaries occurred in 1971 when British researchers found talc particles “deeply embedded” in 10 out of 13 biopsied ovarian tumors, according to a study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Talc can take years to disintegrate, which means it will continue to build up in the reproductive organs of women who regularly use Baby Powder for feminine hygiene. Once ovarian cancer is suspected or diagnosed, tissues samples can be taken from the ovaries, fallopian tubes and pelvic lymph nodes and examined by a pathologist. If talc fibers are present in the tissue, this could be a very strong indication that talcum/baby powder played a role in the development of this devastating disease.

Pathologic evidence can be extremely persuasive and powerful in the legal arena. To date, thousands of women have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, alleging the health care giant knew perineal use of talcum powder was a risk factor for ovarian cancer but failed to warn them. So far, two juries have found J&J liable and have awarded two families a total of $127 million in damages.

In both cases, pathologists found talcum powder in the women’s ovarian tissue.

Has the FDA issued Baby Powder warnings?

Despite requests from consumer advocates and medical experts, the FDA has not issued or mandated Baby Powder warnings about the increased risk of ovarian cancer. Cosmetic talc, the primary ingredient in Baby Powder, remains a largely unregulated substance in the United States.

Baby Powder doesn’t have to be approved by the FDA.

The absence of Baby Powder warnings may be due to the fact that cosmetic products do not have to be reviewed or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration before they go on the market. Because talc ― the main ingredient in Baby Powder ― is considered cosmetic when used in makeup and body powders, there is little federal oversight.

According to the FDA’s website, 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 the FDA.” The FDA further states that it monitors safety issues with cosmetic products but will not take action without “sound scientific data to show that it is harmful under its intended use.”

Over the years, medical experts and advocacy groups, such as the non-profit Cancer Prevention Coalition, have petitioned the FDA to mandate Baby Powder warning labels on talc-based products. The petitioners cited numerous studies and scientific publications linking talc to an increased risk for ovarian cancer, but the FDA rejected their petitions due to insufficient evidence, according to a May 2016 article in Chemical Watch that details the FDA’s stance.

Recently, two juries found Johnson & Johnson liable for failing to warn about the possible link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer and awarded two families a total of $127 million in damages. Despite these jury awards and growing body of evidence, the FDA does not require Baby Powder warnings on talc-based product labels, and Johnson & Johnson has refused to voluntarily add one. Therefore, Baby Powder remains on store shelves today without cancer risk warnings.

What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

Unfortunately, it’s easy to overlook early symptoms of ovarian cancer, which may come and go and are often mistaken for digestive problems or menstruation. Because the warning signs can be vague, many women aren’t diagnosed until after the cancer has spread beyond the ovaries.

Ovarian cancer is difficult to detect, which makes it very dangerous.

The ovaries are tiny organs buried deep within the abdomen, which makes cancer symptoms difficult to detect and easy to dismiss. In most cases, ovarian cancer is not even detected during a routine pelvic exam unless the doctor feels an enlarged ovary. This is why only about 20 percent of ovarian cancers are found at an early stage, when it’s easiest to treat and patient prognosis is good.

Still, early detection is possible, which is why it’s important to stay vigilant. According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
  • Frequent or urgent need to urinate
  • Fatigue
  • Upset stomach
  • Back pain
  • Constipation
  • Menstrual Changes
  • Abdominal swelling with weight loss

Because these symptoms can also be caused by other benign conditions, it’s important to pay attention to frequency and duration. If they are severe or persistent, occurring more than 12 times a month, it’s important to see a doctor right away, preferably a gynecologist.

The exact cause of ovarian cancer is not definitively known, but certain factors may increase a woman’s risk, including age, family history, obesity, smoking, or regular use of talcum powder for feminine hygiene. Many people are surprised to learn that the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer can be traced back more than 40 years. Researchers first pointed to a possible connection in 1971 when a British study found talc particles “deeply embedded” in biopsied ovarian tumors. Since that time, numerous other studies have linked talcum/baby Powder to an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

How can talcum powder cause ovarian cancer?

Research suggests when talcum powder is dusted on the genital area, underwear or feminine products, particles can travel into the vagina and work their way into the ovaries. The body creates inflammation in response to this invader, providing an environment ripe for cancer cell growth.

Talcum powder has been found deeply embedded in ovarian tumors.

Because talcum powder doesn’t dissolve easily, it can take years to break down inside the body. The buildup of particles is exacerbated if talcum powder is used daily for personal hygiene, a common practice among millions of women.

Unfortunately, tumor growth can go undetected for a long time in a woman’s reproductive organs. By the time cancer is discovered, it is often too late for a full recovery. Pathologists have found particles of talcum powder “deeply embedded within ovarian tumors.”

Talcum powder’s link to ovarian cancer can be traced back more than 40 years. Numerous scientific studies about the connection have been published in prominent journals worldwide. And In 2010, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on cancer concluded that “perineal use of talc-based body powder is possibly carcinogenic to humans.

Recently, hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest maker of health care products. The suits allege the company has long known that perineal use of talcum powder is a possible risk factor for ovarian cancer, but failed to warn consumers about the possible danger.

What is talcum powder used for?

Talc, also known as hydrous magnesium silicate, is a naturally occurring mineral that is mined from the earth. Made up of magnesium, silicon, oxygen and hydrogen, talc is the softest mineral on the planet.

From baby powder to makeup, talcum powder has had many uses.

For decades, parents and caregivers have sprinkled talcum powder on babies to prevent diaper rash ― a practice the American Academy of Pediatrics now advises against due to the risk of fine talc particles causing respiratory problems.

Basketball players, powerlifters, and gymnasts frequently use talcum powder on their hands for extra grip, while runners use it to prevent inner-thigh chafing. Many athletes also powder their feet and shoes with talcum powder in an effort to prevent odor and blisters.

Since the early 1900s, women have turned to talcum powder for feminine hygiene, applying it to their perineum, undergarments and sanitary napkins. Many researchers and health care providers now caution against this daily habit, pointing to a slew of studies that have linked prolonged use of talcum powder to an increased risk for ovarian cancer.

Some unconventional uses of talcum powder include removing greasy carpet stains, untangling jewelry and freshening oily hair. Talcum powder can also be found in eye shadow, blush, paint, paper, plastic and rubber.

While talcum powder is a widely used product in today’s world, it’s important to do your homework before regular use of any product. For example, healthcare conglomerate, Johnson & Johnson, cautions against inhalation of Baby Powder on its label, but says nothing about the possible link to ovarian cancer. J&J is now the subject of hundreds of lawsuits across the country, including two that resulted in multi-million dollar jury verdicts in the spring of 2016.

Let’s talk.

Call: 877-803-2897
Text: 817-203-0260

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.