There have been several claims by numerous people that talcum powder or baby powder causes cancer. However, the companies have always denied the accusation. recently, for the third time, one of the giant baby product manufacturer- Johnson & Johnson has been hit with a multi million-dollar jury verdict over whether the talc in its baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.
Last week, St. Louis jury awarded $70.1 m to Ms. Deborah Giannecchini of Modesto (California). She was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer in 2012. Ms. Deborah Giannecchini told that she had used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder for more than 40 years to keep her genital area dry, as many women do. She accused it for causing cancer and also blamed J&J of negligence.
Numerous studies have been done by scientists to know whether Talcum powder really causes cancer. These studies were done on animals and human as well. However, these studies have found mixed result with some of them showing tumor formation and others not finding any.
When the same research was done with human being the scientists suggested that talcum powders may cause following types of cancer-
1. Use of talcum powder might cause ovarian cancer if the powder particles (Powder is applied to the genital area or on sanitary napkins, diaphragms, or condoms) were to travel through the vagina, uterus, and fallopian tubes to the ovary.
2. There are some more studies of miners and millers that claim that there is an increased risk of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases, while other studies did not find any increase in lung cancer risk.
These studies have been further complicated by the fact that the powder in its natural form can contain varying amounts of asbestos and other minerals as well, unlike the purified talc in consumer products. When working underground, miners can also be exposed to other substances that might affect lung cancer risk. However, there are also no strong proof that talcum powder is not at all responsible for the cancer.
Some studies have also found that talcum powders may cause some other sorts of cancers as well. However, these findings are not profound and have not been accepted by several scientists and scholars but since it was the third time when jury verdict was against Johnson & Johnson, one can easily understand that the situation is grim.
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(The biggest studies have found no link between talcum powder applied to the genitals and ovarian cancer. But about two dozen smaller studies over three decades have mostly found a modest connection – a 20% to 40% increased risk among talc users.)