Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Risk Sparks Growing Legal Battle

Deane Berg’s doctor called her the day after Christmas in 2006 to tell her the news of her cancer diagnosis. She had her ovaries removed and the results came back Deane Berg had stage three ovarian cancer and her prognosis was poor. She had twenty-five years of experience has a physician’s assistant but knew almost nothing about ovarian cancer. When she looked up the risks, she had only one; regular use of talcum powder for feminine hygiene.

Berg learned that since the early 1980s, several studies had discovered that women who regularly used talc powder for feminine hygiene had higher than average rates of ovarian cancer. Yet the evidence which fell short of proving that it caused the cancer, was mostly confined to medical journals and had barely been made known to the public. For millions of women including Berg using powder on the the genitals or underwear was a daily ritual, like brushing teeth. Since her teens, Berg had used Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower, another Johnson & Johnson powder marketed to women. “A sprinkle a day keeps odor away,” the ads stated. “Your body perspires in more places than just under your arms.”

After a painful time with chemotherapy Berg filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against Johnson and Johnson in federal court. A verdict in October of 2013, allowed both sides to declare a victory. The jury found Johnson & Johnson Consumer Cos., guilty of negligence for failing to warn of the risk of ovarian cancer, but awarded zero damages to Berg. The case brought controversy. Lawyers found liability and since then there has been seven hundred claims from ovarian cancer victims or their survivors blaming the illness on exposure to talc powder. Lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson contend that women contracted ovarian cancer from using its talc powders for feminine hygiene. The company says there is no causal connection.

Berg stated that, “This is an ugly disease, I sure would have appreciated being given the chance to say this is worth the risk or it isn’t.”

Johnson and Johnson refused interview requests, but released a statement: “We have no higher responsibility than the health and safety of consumers who rely on our products. It is important for consumers to know that the safety of cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence and independent peer-reviewed studies.” The companies including Johnson and Johnson that produce talcum powder claim that statistical associations between talc use and ovarian cancer are weak, and may result from bias in the study methods. A causal link is not biologically plausible, they say, since there is no proof that talc particles can pass through the genital tract to the ovaries or that, once there, they could cause malignant growths. There is no causal link, they argue, so warnings were unnecessary.

The first trials for these lawsuits are scheduled for early 2016.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer or another illness after using talcum powder, then we suggest you contact one of knowledgeable and caring talcum powder ovarian cancer lawyers with the Higgins Firm. We will help you determine if you may be eligible for any compensation for what you have suffered.

You can contact us online or by calling 800.705.2121 to discuss your case and any questions you might have.

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