Talc-containing powders have been used for decades for a variety of cosmetic purposes. You can find talc in baby powder, eye makeup and other products with relative ease, but is it really safe? Recently, a 62-year-old woman who had been using Johnson & Johnson products for roughly forty years developed cancer from the ingredient.
Lois Slemp, who resides in the state of Virginia, developed ovarian cancer from her near-daily use of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and their Shower To Shower product — both of which contain talc. Slemp was initially diagnosed in 2012, but her cancer has since returned and spread to her liver. Reports say that she is now being treated with chemotherapy.
Recently, a St. Louis court ruled in favor of Slemp, and awarded her a record-setting $110.5 million. The Missouri court concluded that Johnson & Johnson was 99 percent at fault, while their talc supplier, Imerys, was held just one percent of the blame.
In addition to the $4.5 million in compensatory damages, Johnson and Johnson has been ordered to pay an additional $105 million in punitive damages, while Imerys will pay out $50,000 to Ms. Slemp.
Sadly, Slemp is not the only person to be harmed by the company’s baby powder or other talc-containing products. Three other St. Louis juries have awarded a total of $197 million in damages to plaintiffs with similar complaints. Despite Johnson and Johnson’s claim to fame as “the world’s largest healthcare group,” lawyers say that the corporation failed to accurately warn consumers about the risks posed by the talc in their products. In fact, the company has faced thousands of lawsuits for allegedly ignoring studies that linked its baby powder and Shower To Shower products with ovarian cancer.
So far, at least 2,000 women have filed lawsuits over similar concerns about the ramifications of using Johnson & Johnson baby powder or other talc-containing products. Several other women have developed cancer as a result of using J&J’s baby powder or Shower To Shower. After years of using baby powder, Deborah Giannecchini from California was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012 as well. She was recently awarded $70 million in damages.
In early 2016, the family of Jaqueline Fox was also awarded $72 million in damages after a jury concluded that her daily use of talc-containing powder contributed to her cancer and subsequent death. Fox had reportedly been using the product for approximately 50 years. Fox’s son, Marvin, stated that the company should have made consumers aware of the risk.
“It has to be safe. It’s put on babies. It’s been around forever. Why haven’t we heard about any ill effects? People were using something they thought was perfectly safe. And it isn’t. At least give people the choice. J & J didn’t give people a choice,” he reportedly commented.
In spite of the mounting lawsuits and consistently being found at fault, Johnson & Johnson has continued to maintain their innocence, and stated that they would be preparing to appeal and dispute the evidence. “We are preparing for additional trials this year and we continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder,” the company said.
Evidence has shown that talc can increase the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers by about 30 percent. While some experts say that it’s just a “small increase for a rare cancer,” why take the risk? There are plenty of alternatives, which many manufacturers are turning to. Cornstarch, silk powder and finely milled oats are some options to be on the look out for when purchasing a talc-free powder.