Regularly using talc-based baby powders to soothe sensitive skin or eliminate unwanted moisture could eventually lead to cancer, alleges a new class action lawsuit filed against drug giant Johnson & Johnson. Plaintiffs say the company’s popular baby powder product increases women’s risk of ovarian cancer by 33 percent, and that J&J has known about the risk for more than 30 years.
Extracted from mines across the U.S., talc is a hydrous magnesium silicate that is very soft on the mineral scale, making it an effective treatment for skin chafing, excess moisture, rashes and other skin problems. The product is typically marketed with babies in mind, as mothers can apply it to their baby’s bottoms in between diaper changes as a way to both cool and comfort them.
But the mineral doesn’t appear to be safe, and women who use it in their genital areas seem to be much more likely than other women to develop cancer. J&J has failed to warn women of this risk, claims the suit, which means that the company could be liable for committing fraud, not to mention deceiving customers with false pretense, misrepresentation and deception.
“Johnson’s Baby Powder is not safe,” states the complaint. “As numerous studies have confirmed, Johnson’s Baby Powder leads to a significant increased risk of ovarian cancer. Women who used talc-based powders to powder their genital area have a 33 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer compared to those women who never used the powders.”
1982 study linked talcum powder use to 300 percent increase in ovarian cancer risk
One such study, which was released back in 1982, found that women who used talcum powder are actually 300 times more likely than other women to develop cancer, which is significant. The plaintiffs claim J&J was aware of this study’s findings, but failed to address them, putting untold millions of women at needless risk.
“As early as 1982, defendants were acutely aware of the scientific evidence linking ovarian cancer and perennial use of talcum powder,” explains the suit.
“In an August 12, 1982, New York Times article entitled ‘Talcum Company Calls Study on Cancer Link Inconclusive,’ defendants admitted being aware of the 1982 Cramer study that concluded women were three times more likely to contract ovarian cancer after daily use of talcum powder in the genital area.”
The suit comes on the heels of an earlier one filed in South Dakota, in which a federal court last October found J&J guilty of causing ovarian cancer in women, and negligent in informing women of the risk. Since that time, at least three other lawsuits against J&J have been filed, all claiming that its talc-based products cause cancer.
“Despite defendants’ knowledge, defendants failed to inform plaintiffs and the class of material facts and misrepresented material facts in connection with the sale of Johnson’s Baby Powder,” claim the plaintiffs.
“Defendants’ omissions and representations constitute deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation, unfair practices and omission, concealment, and suppression of material information in connection with the sale or advertisement of any merchandise in trade or commerce in or from the state of Missouri.”
Those eligible to participate in the class are Missouri residents who purchased Johnson’s Baby Powder within the past five years. The claims filed against J&J are based on alleged violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practice Act, with the plaintiffs calling on the company to issue a corrective advertising campaign.
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