Johnson & Johnson to pay $72m (£51m) in case linking baby powder to ovarian cancer

American court have ordered the giant cosmetic company, Johnson & Johnson, to pay the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer the sum as it’s alleged that the cancer was caused by talcum powder.

The Missouri jury made the decision as they were persuaded that there was a link between the everyday bathroom product and the cancer.

The main argument that the prosecution used was that the firm knew of talc risks but failed to warn consumers.

There has been concerns for years over a possible link; back in 2008 the NHS Choices website warned of a possible link and suggested that if women are concerned they could avoid using talc; the International Agency for Research on Cancer published a research paper in 2010 evaluating the risk to humans of Carbon Black, Titanium Dioxide and Talc – they explicitly suggest that the regular use of talcum powder on the genitals could be ‘possibly carcinogenic’.

So is using talc safe?

Before the 1970s, many talcum powder products use the mineral Talc, which in its natural form does contain asbestos and does cause cancer.

But what clouds the whole issue is that whilst some studies suggest a link, others dismiss the idea.

Paul McMullan, Michael Lewin Solicitors Product Liability expert commented, “The link between the product and ovarian cancer isn’t very strong, thousands of people every day have used talcum powder, and I’m sure that consumer will be looking to these big brands for reassurance of their safety”.

Manufacturers are under increasing pressure to remove possible harmful chemicals from their products – these include Parabens, Formaldehyde, 1,4-Dioxane, Mica and Homosalate.

Ovarian cancer luckily is a very rare disease and any definite link between the disease and the use of talcum powder would result in only a few women developing the disease this way.

The product liability team at Michael Lewin Solicitors have acted for numerous clients over the years who have suffer adverse reactions or injuries after using cosmetic products.

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