A new study shows that there is strong evidence that women who use talcum powder are at an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Published on the heels of a $72 million lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson over a woman’s death due to ovarian cancer after using their baby powder for years, the landmark study shines a light on what many in the medical community have been saying for years.
Lead researcher Dr. Daniel Cramer of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston has been studying the link between ovarian cancer and talcum powder for years. Following the study, he said baby powder and other products containing talc should carry a warning label, a change that is long overdue.
“Talc is a good drying agent,” Cramer said in a Reuters interview, “but women should know that if it’s used repeatedly, it can get into the vagina and into their upper genital tract. And I think if they knew that, they wouldn’t use it.”
The study looked at a group of 2,041 women who have ovarian cancer and their use of the powder, comparing it to a group of 2,100 women who don’t have ovarian cancer.
The results were shocking: women who had used the powder habitually for more than 24 years had up to a 57 percent increased chance of getting ovarian cancer.
The study found that the women who used the powder tended to be overweight, older, and asthmatic, as well as being regular users of analgesics, but none of these factors was found to be a cancer risk.
Although Cramer’s study was only published after the lawsuit of Jacqueline Fox was concluded–the Alabama woman whose family successfully sued Johnson & Johnson over Fox’s ovarian cancer and her use of baby powder–his research was nonetheless included in the case.
The ruling and the study are expected to open the floodgates to lawsuits over the use of the powder, and some are saying it’s about time. For his part, Dr. Cramer has been trying to get word out about the risks for decades. Since 1982 he has been talking about the risks of ovarian cancer from the use of baby powder in the genital area.
In fact, doctors as far back as 1972 have pointed out the possibility of a link between ovarian cancer and women who dust their genital area with baby powder.
But Johnson and Johnson has refused to acknowledge the link, repeatedly saying the research was inconclusive.
In Fox’s lawsuit, which was carried on after her death by her relatives, the jury awarded the plaintiffs $10 million in damages, and an additional $62 million in punitive damages.
Here’s hoping that plenty of other women who have suffered at the hands of these purveyors of poison also hit them where it hurts.