Talcum powder may seem innocuous. Your parents probably used it when you were a child, and you may have used it on your own children. The millions of people who have used talcum powder had no reason to suspect this common substance could raise the risk of cancer, but unfortunately, we’ve learned that it may sometimes be contaminated with asbestos, a known carcinogen. It is important to contact a talcum powder lawsuit attorney as soon as possible.
In the past few decades, tens of thousands of plaintiffs have filed suit against Johnson & Johnson, alleging that the talcum powder in the company’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products caused mesothelioma (a rare form of lung cancer usually found in people exposed to asbestos) and ovarian cancer. The lawsuits are based on the grounds that the company is liable for products that raised the risk of cancer and that Johnson & Johnson knew of a link between talc and cancers for decades.
Talc is a natural mineral composed of magnesium, silicon, oxygen, and hydrogen. It can be crushed into a white powder that most of us know as talcum powder or talcum. For years, talcum has been bought and used by millions of consumers for hygienic, medical, or sanitary purposes, such as preventing rashes and drying the skin. Cosmetics companies often use talc in makeup products like blush, foundation, eye shadow, or anything in a powder form, although the talc is in lower concentrations than those typically found in pure talcum powder. There are also several industrial uses for talc.
So far, talc by itself has not been definitively linked to cancer. However, talc and asbestos (a known carcinogen) often occur near each other in the earth, so the possibility of asbestos contamination in talc products is significant. As numerous lawsuits proceeded against Johnson & Johnson, reports showed that many of its products contained asbestos. In one case, expert witnesses acquired older Baby Powder or Shower-to-Shower products, some from as far back as 1978, and found them to contain significant concentrations of asbestos.
Johnson & Johnson maintains that their current talcum powder is perfectly safe and uncontaminated by asbestos, but they ultimately decided to stop selling talc-based powders, discontinuing the talc Baby Powder in the US market in 2020. The current product is now made of cornstarch, and J & J plans to discontinue using talc worldwide by 2023.
Some studies have found an increased risk of ovarian cancer in people who used talcum powder in the perineal or genital area. Other research dating to the 1960s found particles compatible with talc in some ovarian tumors.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC, part of the World Health Organization) has classified asbestos-contaminated talc as carcinogenic. IARC has not classified non-contaminated talc as carcinogenic. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell the difference without laboratory tests, and because there is evidence that at least some talcum powder was contaminated with asbestos in the past, it’s hard to know if you were exposed.
IARC also says that the use of talc products in the perineal area is possibly carcinogenic to humans. If you’re concerned about your risk of ovarian cancer, it may be a good idea to avoid talc-based powders. If you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and have used talcum powder, you may be able to seek compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages. Please contact Goldblatt + Singer, the St. Louis Injury Law Firm, for a free consultation.
Mesothelioma is a form of epithelial cancer that most commonly affects men who work in an industry where asbestos is used. It frequently occurs in the tissues around the lungs (pleural mesothelioma), and may cause the following symptoms:
Research dating back to 2002 shows there are excess cases (more than average) of mesothelioma in talc miners and millers. There are also multiple reports of patients with mesothelioma whose only known exposure to asbestos was the repeated use of talcum powder. If you developed mesothelioma without any known exposure to asbestos, but you did regularly use talcum powder, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries.
Often people ask us if talc exposure years earlier could possibly be related to their current cancer, even if they haven’t used talc products in years. The answer is yes – asbestos exposure has what’s called a “latency period” of 20 to 60 years. That means that most people who are exposed to asbestos-contaminated talc don’t develop cancer right away. Instead, they may get it decades later, even without continued exposure.
Despite evidence that asbestos-contaminated talc may raise the risk of cancer, and evidence that Johnson & Johnson knew at least some of its talcum powder products could be contaminated with asbestos, the company continued making and selling its talc-based products until recently. In the US, it only discontinued the talcum powder lines in 2020 (despite asserting that it’s talcum powders don’t contain asbestos).
Under Missouri’s liability laws, if a company makes a product that poses a danger to the consumer when used in a reasonably expected way, and a consumer suffers harm as a result, the company could be liable for damages.
Another issue is the lack of warning. Many products carry various warnings about the risks inherent in using them. For example, cigarette packages warn about the risks of lung cancer and emphysema. Alcohol containers warn about the risks of drinking while pregnant, etc. If a product manufacturer doesn’t warn consumers about a potential risk associated with the product, they could be liable for a failure to warn. In this situation, many lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson have cited a failure to warn as one reason for the complaint.
As mentioned above, more than 40,000 lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson regarding talc-related cancers. The company then found a legal loophole to avoid dealing with many of these lawsuits: The “Texas Two-Step.”
Johnson & Johnson, headquartered in New Jersey, created a new subsidiary called LTL in October of 2021. LTL was established in Texas, and all the talcum powder lawsuits were reassigned to the accounting of LTL, which promptly moved its headquarters to North Carolina. Shortly after that, LTL filed for bankruptcy, leaving thousands of people with active lawsuits in limbo. Sadly, many cancer patients are deeply in debt from their treatment costs and need a resolution to their cases.
During a September 2022 hearing, the US Appeals Court of the Third District questioned Johnson & Johnson executives about their motives in filing for bankruptcy, seeking to learn if the company used bankruptcy of a subsidiary as a way to avoid liability for numerous lawsuits. The US Department of Justice is also investigating the maneuver. The matter is not currently resolved, but the court will eventually rule on whether the bankruptcy is legal.
We don’t know how the US Appeals Court will handle Johnson &Johnson’s bankruptcy filing. If they allow it to continue, many cases against the pharmaceutical company may be delayed. However, you may still be able to receive compensation, although it could take longer the reach a resolution. Either way, your talc cancer layer at Goldblatt + Singer will continue to fight to get you justice for as long as it takes.
Sometimes cancer patients who are seriously ill ask us what will happen if they pass on before their case is resolved. We hope that doesn’t happen, but if it does, we can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the client’s surviving relatives. If you are concerned about your family’s financial well-being in the event of your death, be sure to tell your estate attorney about any litigation regarding your cancer.
Another common question is, “What if I used a different brand of talcum powder besides Johnson & Johnson?”
It’s true that several other brands have been associated with known asbestos contamination, including Old Spice After Shave Talc, Chanel No. 5 After Bath Powder, Mennen Shave Talc, and Yardley Invisible Talc, and Black Label. Other brands could also be affected. If you used any kind of talcum powder and later developed ovarian or lung cancer, you may have a case against the manufacturer. To learn more, please contact us for a free consultation.
In 2020, the Environmental Working Group reported that three out of 21 cosmetics samples they tested contained some amount of asbestos, which makes sense when you remember that talc is a component of many makeup items. Whether or not the amount of asbestos in makeup products is enough to cause cancer is not yet clear.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer or mesothelioma due to using talcum powder, contact the Goldblatt + Singer, the St. Louis Injury Law Firm, online or by calling 314-888-1000 for a free case evaluation. (If you are unsure what caused your cancer, we will ask you questions to determine your level of exposure.) There is no obligation, and your initial consultation is always free. If we take your case, there is no charge until we win.
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