Is Talcum Powder Safe To Use?


The law off… Researching The Links

A woman in the US recently won a lawsuit against the cosmetic giants, Johnson & Johnson. She claimed that a life-long use of their talcum powder was to blame for the ovarian cancer she is now suffering from.

Phillip Gower, Industrial Disease Partner, explains the case and investigates the research into talcum powder's potential cancer risks.

Compensation For Cancer Caused By Talcum Powder

Eva Echeverria from Los Angeles was awarded $400 million in compensation from Johnson & Johnson after winning a lawsuit where she claimed the company had failed to warn consumers of the risks involved in using the product. Echeverria had used the product every day since the 1950s and is now suffering from terminal ovarian cancer.

This is not the only case Johnson & Johnson have attempted to defend themselves against such allegations. In May 2017, a jury decided to award a woman who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer with $110 million after it was told that she had been using the product every day for over 40 years.

Other cases have not been as successful and several have been thrown out of court by judges who decided claimants did not present reliable evidence linking the talcum powder to ovarian cancer.

What Do The Studies Show?

There have been many studies into the potential dangers of talcum powder. Despite the amount of studies carried out, it is still uncertain whether or not talcum powder can be directly linked to ovarian cancer. Many of the studies have been carried out in America, and some have said to have found a link, although most of the studies have also been criticised for their limitations, for example, their sample size.

Sarah Williams from Cancer Research UK said, "More research is needed to work out what role, if any, talc plays in ovarian cancer." Cancer Research's page on potential causes of cancer in women includes a section on talcum powder and the possibility of an increased risk in ovarian cancer.

Is Talcum Powder Safe To Use?

Until the 1970s, talcum powder contained asbestos, but since that time, asbestos-free talcum powder is all that can be found on the shop shelves. Asbestos has very distinct links to lung cancer as our lungs are unable to dispel the toxic substance. Anyone using talcum powder in the 70s and before could have been at risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases, but this has not been proven to include ovarian cancer.

Since the 70s asbestos is no longer in talcum powder, but research does suggest that there could be a link between the consistent use of talcum powder and the development of ovarian cancer.

What Is Ovarian Cancer?

The ovaries are part of the reproductive system in women. There is one ovary on each side of the body and they produce an egg each month. It is possible to get cancer in the ovaries and is the 6th most common cancer in women. 53% of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed in women over 65.

There are a number of symptoms of ovarian cancer to look out for.

They include:

  • Feeling constantly bloated
  • A swollen tummy
  • Discomfort in your tummy or pelvic area
  • Feeling full quickly when eating
  • Needing to urinate more often or more urgently than normal
  • Persistent indigestion or feeling sick
  • Unintentional weight loss

It is incredibly important that if you are suffering with any one of these symptoms, you see your GP to discuss your symptoms. It is common to mistake these symptoms for Irritable Bowel Symptoms, so to be safe, seek advice from your doctor.

Can I Claim For Cancer Caused By Dangerous Substances?

Whilst the links to talcum powder may remain unsure, there are cases of women in the US successfully suing Johnson & Johnson. If someone has been exposed to a material that causes cancer unknowingly and there is evidence to suggest that they could have been warned, it is possible to claim compensation.

Our specialist Industrial Disease solicitors are experienced in dealing with cases that involve the negligence of protecting a person from toxic substances, which include asbestos. If you think your cancer could be traced back to the exposure of a hazardous substance that could have been prevented, compensation can help greatly towards medical costs that are often incurred when living with cancer.

Phillip comments:

"I worry that the evidence demonstrating the links between talcum powder and ovarian cancer are looked at too complacently. This could be a 'ticking time bomb' for women across the globe and not just the US."

"It's so important to go to the GP if you experience any symptoms that could be linked to cancer. Even though ovarian cancer is rare in younger people, it's always better to get the opinion of a healthcare professional."

"I appreciate that talcum powder is now asbestos-free, but concerns obviously still exist about its potential harm. Johnson & Johnson, as leaders in the cosmetic manufacturing industry, should lead the way and reassess what materials are used to make their products."

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