Johnson & Johnson, an American multinational corporation that specializes in developing medical devices and selling pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods, has been ordered to pay $72 million US dollars to the family of a woman whose death from ovarian cancer was linked to her decades-long use of the company’s talc-based Baby Powder and Shower.
The decision was made last Monday by a Missouri state jury, and The Globe & Mail has shared details of the verdict:
Jurors in the circuit court of St. Louis awarded the family of Jacqueline Fox $10-million of actual damages and $62 million of punitive damages, according to the family’s lawyers and court records. . . . Johnson & Johnson faces claims that it, in an effort to boost sales, failed for decades to warn consumers that its talc-based products could cause cancer.
Approximately 1,000 more cases have been filed in Missouri state court, and another 200 in New Jersey, but this may well be the tip of the iceberg. In this specific case, jurors actually found Johnson & Johnson liable for fraud, negligence, and conspiracy. Jere Beasly, a lawyer for the family of the victim, revealed that Johnson & Johnson “knew as far back as the 1980s of the risk,” and yet resorted to “lying to the public, lying to the regulatory agencies.”
A Johnson & Jonson spokeswomen, however, continued to negate these claims:
We have no higher responsibility than the health and safety of consumers, and we are disappointed with the outcome of the trial. We sympathize with the plaintiff’s family but firmly believe the safety of cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence
The ‘decades of scientific evidence’ to which she refers clearly have not withstood the scrutiny of either this trial or concerned members of the public; it also fails to account for who funded the research. Her remark also makes plain a disturbing trend amongst big corporations, which is the blind trust of their employees. Many clearly believe what they are told about the products they represent, without questioning or doing their own independent research.
Scientific fraud induced by major corporations in this field is no secret, and various medical experts around the world have been speaking out against it for decades. Dr. Richard Horton, current Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet, one of the largest medical journals in the world, has publicly and unequivocally called out the scientific community for this negligence and outright fraud:
The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. (source)
The sheer volume of statements from very credible people, along with the documents and evidence, attesting to this disturbing trend, is simply overwhelming. (You can find more information and view more examples/statements in an article we recently published about anti-depressant drugs here.) Yet the unfortunate reality is that employees of these big corporations stand behind their products, working under the assurances of corporately-funded science which, obviously, has profit in mind rather than safety. This is a widespread and alarming problem, and it’s great to see more people raise their voice against these shady practices. Dr. Marcia Angell, a physician and longtime Editor-in-Chief of the New England Medical Journal (NEMJ), is another such professional to do so:
It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of the New England Journal of Medicine. (source)
It’s no secret that many household products are toxic to our health. Science has been confirming their dangers for years now (not that many of us needed this confirmation); these products are literally littered with a number of hazardous harmful chemicals. Researchers in the UK, for example, found that domestic products such as anti-insect sprays, deodorants, cleaning products, cosmetics, and more contain a number of cancer causing chemicals. The researchers, from the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, who concluded that these types of everyday household products maybe be contributing to 100,000 deaths every single year in Europe, warn that the public remains unaware of these risks.
Another example of an insider speaking out against the industry is Foster Gamble, the direct descendant of one of the founders of Procter & Gamble (a company similar to Johnson & Johnson). He himself explains that he was groomed for the establishment, but his ethical concerns prompted him to change direction.
To the left you will see a picture of him with Gerald Ford. Foster decided to leave the business and instead raise awareness about many issues, including the hazards associated with everyday household products that the corporations like his father’s manufacture.
He’s had an interesting life to say the least, and you can watch a documentary he released a few years ago here.
A Few Of Many Products You Don’t Want To Have In Your Home…
Unfortunately, many personal care products, like the ones made by Johnson & Johnson, are demonstrably dangerous to our health, and putting these products on our skin makes absolutely no sense. Cancer, for example, is caused by physical carcinogens, chemical carcinogens, and biological carcinogens, all of which we surround ourselves with on a daily basis, and all of which can be found in various personal care products, such as many deodorants.
We recently wrote an article about how to prevent breast cancer through an armpit detox. The article goes into detail about concerns with regards to aluminum, and how substances put on our skin do not take long to penetrate and find their way into the bloodstream.
Corporate manufacturers also approve thousands upon thousands of chemicals for use in cosmetics. This in-house validation is all that is necessary to get a product onto the shelves, there being no regulatory process for approving these chemicals, leaving plenty of room for bias to influence the decision.
Again, chemicals are very effectively absorbed via your skin. For example, the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Manitoba, Canada, conducted a study to quantify how many sunscreen agents penetrate the skin after it is applied, and their results demonstrated significant penetration of all sunscreen agents into the skin. We are talking about multiple chemicals entering multiple tissues within the body. (source)
The dangers are generally multiplied for women, as they tend to use several different products on a daily basis. This combining of products can contribute to an overload of toxic chemicals. Makeup, for example, is a huge source for heavy metals. In the report “Heavy Metal Hazard: The Health Risks of Hidden Heavy Metals In Face Make up,” Environmental Defense tested 49 different makeup items, including foundations, concealers, powders, blushes, mascaras, eye liners, eye shadows, lipsticks, and lip glosses. Their testing revealed serious heavy metal contamination in virtually all of their products:
96 percent contained lead
90 percent contained beryllium
61 percent contained thallium
51 percent contained cadmium
20 percent contained arsenic
The Environmental Working Group has a great database to help you find personal care products that are free of potentially dangerous chemicals. Better yet, simplify your routine and make your own products. A slew of lotions, potions, and hair treatments can be eliminated with a jar of coconut oil, for example, to which you can add a high quality essential oil for scent.
Having commercial cleaning products in your home is not a smart idea either. Combined with all of the above products, and all of the below, it becomes easy to understand the dramatic rise in disease we’ve seen over the past few decades.
We’ve covered this topic before, and outlined why these products are dangerous and what alternatives you can use instead. “Why We All Need To Stop Cleaning With Bleach” is a great example, so check it out if you’re interested to see where we are coming from.
Alternatives include baking soda, white vinegar, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, liquid castile soap, organic essential oils, mixing bowls, spray bottles, microfiber cloths, and more.
Why is it that these products could be manufactured to be much less hazardous, and in some cases cheaper, but aren’t? It’s not hard to see why so many people believe that corporations have no qualms about contributing to the decline of human health. It’s a scary thought to be sure, but there are things to do and preventative measures/ lifestyle changes you can make.
It is ironic that we are always talking about raising money and finding a cure for cancer without ever discussing cancer prevention. How can we ever hope to tackle a problem without addressing its source?
When it comes to health, air fresheners are probably some of the worst products you can have in your home. These commonly contain 2, 5-dichlorophenol (2, 5-DCP), a metabolite of 1,4 dichlorobenzene. This stuff is present in the blood of nearly all Americans, has been linked to lung damage, and has been known to cause organ system toxicity. According to the National Resources Defense Council:
Air fresheners have become a staple in many American homes and offices, marketed with the promise of creating a clean, healthy, and sweet-smelling indoor atmosphere. But many of these products contain phthalates (pronounced thal-ates) – hazardous chemicals known to cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects, and reproductive problems. NRDC’s independent testing of 14 common air fresheners, none of which listed phthalates as an ingredient, uncovered these chemicals in 86 percent (12 of 14) of the products tested, including those advertised as “all natural” or “unscented.” (source) (source)
The list goes on and on… And there is no shortage of alternatives that usually work even better. If you are looking for alternative cosmetics, personal care products, and more, feel free to email me (Arjun@collective-evolution.com) and I can provide some suggestions. Alternatives are also easily found with a Google search and a bit of research.
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