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Large Verdicts against Companies Making and Selling Talcum Products

By Michael Bartlett

Posted on December 30th, 2016 in

The year 2016 witnessed a significant rise in large verdicts that were given to the companies making talcum products, wherein plaintiffs have alleged that they have developed cancer as a result of continuous use of talcum powder.

- By Michael Bartlett

At least 2000 women have filed similar kind of lawsuits worldwide. A majority of actions till date were personal injury or wrongful death claims.

Missouri Court awarded compensations between $55 and 72 million (compensatory and punitive damage related to prolonged use of talcum powder made and sold by Johnson & Johnson, and Imerys Talc America Inc.) which split the talcum into three separate cases of women who developed ovarian cancer.

In California, a Los Angeles jury returned an $18.07 million verdict against a supplier of talcum products, Whittaker Clark & Daniels for its alleged role in Senator Philip Depoian's mesothelioma. Depoian was exposed to asbestos that was present in talcum products that were used at a barbershop and through his own use of products such as Old Spice, Clubman, Kings Men, and Mennen Shave Talc.

Talc and Asbestos Lawsuits

Recently, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered that pretrial hearings will now be centralized and taken up by the District of New Jersey as the number of talc-related litigations is on the rise!

Studies Have Shown Mixed or Uncertain Results

The debate on whether talc is a potential carcinogen that causes ovarian cancer has been inconclusive for several decades. Moreover, the studies conducted to evaluate the risk of ovarian cancer associated with the use of talcum products were not conclusive. These studies could involve bias related to a person's memory of using talcum products.

In 1971, a study that included ovarian cancer patients showed the presence of particles of talc in their ovarian tissue. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), various case-control studies have found a modest increase in the risk. In addition, other two prospective cohort studies, which had a lesser potential for bias, have not demonstrated any link to significant risk.

What Is the Link Between Talcum and Asbestos?

In addition to the baby powder that has been used for more than 100 years, talcum is included in many cosmetic products, mostly to absorb moisture.

The FDA states that talcum is a naturally occurring mineral that may be found in close proximity to asbestos in the earth; therefore talcum may also contain asbestos. Asbestos is a known carcinogen that causes lung cancers when inhaled. Since the 1970s, all talcum products used in the United States have been free from asbestos.

Educating Communities and Increasing Awareness about Ovarian Cancer

The first talcum powder lawsuit was filed in 2009 by Diane Berg. More than 22,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year, while more than 14,000 women die from this disease. The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often subtle and there are no tests to detect cancer at an early stage.

The findings of most studies have been mixed and opinions differ. The American Cancer Society (ACS) does not consider talcum to be a potential carcinogen, while the World Health Organization (WHO) does.

The wise thing to do if you have a fear of ovarian cancer due to talcum products usage is to consult your physician or to choose talcum-free products as an alternative.

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