Why Baby Powder Could Be A Threat To Women
Baby powder. something that is found in nearly every single house, medicine cabinet, and diaper bag across the country, but could it be a threat to women?
There have been numerous cases, different trials, more women, new jurors and still the same story.
These women were all diagnosed with ovarian cancer, an aggressive form of cancer that kills more than half of its victims within five years of being diagnosed. And they all had one thing in common, they were all using this seemingly harmless household product, manufactured by one of America’s oldest family companies.
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Alisha Landrum, from South Carolina, had been using Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder for decades. “Instantly, I knew that’s what caused my cancer, it was a staple, just like it would be toothpaste for anyone else. It was just part of my routine.” Landrum is one of the thousands of women who have filed lawsuits against the company, after multi-million dollar verdicts and a body of scientific evidence linked talcum powder to cancer.
But the company won’t back down. Johnson & Johnson have used independent studies to rule out a cancer link and the companies attorneys have worked hard to try and paint women like Landrum as opportunists, who see it as a chance to make money. The attorneys have overturned unfavorable verdicts and haven’t paid a dime to any of the plaintiffs to date.
Decades ago, countless women were taught to dust talcum powder into their underwear in the mornings to ‘keep fresh.’
Marvin Salter, from Alabama, remembers how talcum powder was a staple in his mother’s home. His mother, Jacqueline Fox, died of ovarian cancer in 2018 and the following year won a $72 million judgment against Johnson & Johnson’s. She discovered the possible link while she was watching a late-night legal commercial. She had been using talcum powder for years and continued to use it after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, unaware of the risks.
Nearly 10,000 cases
Many experts aren’t yet ready to dismiss the allegations about talcum powder, given the number of studies that have shown a link, and the number of women who have come forward. There are nearly 10,000 talcum powder lawsuits pending against Johnson & Johnson’s, many of them awaiting trial. These women claim that the company has known about the risks of talcum powder and it’s like to cancer, and they refuse to put either a warning label on the bottle or pull it from shelves.
Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder first came onto the market in 1894 and became the first product in the companies line directed at babies. An early advertisement for the product stated “It’s not an ordinary talcum, the purity of its ingredients and the details of its preparation are guarded as a mother guards her baby’s welfare — all to the very same end. It is a wise thing to sprinkle and pat your baby several times a day with Johnson’s Baby Powder. It is indeed, ‘Best for Baby, Best for You.’”
As a result of these claims, pediatricians now no longer recommend that parents use talcum powder for diaper rash. Some experts believe that infant girls don’t face the same risks of developing ovarian cancer due to their hymen preventing the talc from reaching the reproductive organs. An alternative that can be used is cornstarch, which works just as well and isn’t as easily inhaled. But the use of baby powder could be a threat to women who have gone through puberty.
The risk of inhalation of talc has been recently highlighted in a number of lawsuits targeting the potential of asbestos in talcum powder. A jury in New Jersey recently ordered Johnson & Johnson’s and Imerys Talc America to pay $117 million to a man after he claimed using talcum powder tainted with asbestos had caused his mesothelioma.
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The problem lies in the fact that baby powder isn’t a pharmaceutical product, but is classed as a cosmetic product, and isn’t subjected to as many regulations by federal authorities. A 2016 Bloomberg report shows that out of the 345-page Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (1938), only two pages are devoted to the safety of cosmetic products, which do not require FDA approval before they can be introduced to consumers.
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Bart Williams, an attorney for Johnson & Johnson, told CNN that he believes the baby powder claims are fueled not by science, but by personal greed. “My take on the talc ovarian cancer litigation is that it really is skillful and well-funded plaintiffs lawyers who are exaggerating science and taking it out of context to scare people and to frighten the public with the goal of lining their own pockets,” Williams said. “I think they are wrong scientifically. I think they are wrong legally, and I think the evidence shows that the science doesn’t support using talc and ovarian cancer.”
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