Countless products, foods, and even elements in our environment and air are known to cause cancer. Perhaps one of the most devastating ingredients amongst known carcinogens is talcum powder (talc), a key ingredient in Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder. That’s right, the powder that so many parents use on the bottoms of their babies daily could result in cancer.
Last week, state court in St. Louis, Missouri, ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay the largest dollar amount yet in a long list of lawsuits brought forward against the company for not warning consumers of the health risks associated with the use of talc. The court voted in favour of the plaintiff and Lois Slemp was awarded $5.4 million in compensation and Johnson & Johnson was forced to pay a further $105 million in punitive damages.
The Court Cases Against Johnson & Johnson
62-year-old American woman Lois Slemp was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and blamed her sickness on her use of the corporate giant’s talc-containing products for over 40 years. Though she was unfortunately too sick to make the trial, her testimony was played via audio. Slemp was also too sick to speak with reporters, though her attorney stated that she was thrilled with the outcome of the trial and she hopes it sends a message to the company.
Instead of being apologetic, the company argued the claims and mentioned other cases that were thrown out as a result of lack of evidence. “We are preparing for additional trials this year and we will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder,” the statement said.
It seems that Johnson & Johnson has been making multiple headlines lately, as the company has been accused of causing numerous cases of cancer and illnesses with its talcum-based products. In early 2016, the company was ordered to pay $72 million US to the family of a woman whose death from ovarian cancer was linked to her decades-long use of the company’s baby powder.
You can read more about that in our CE article here:
In fact, over 3,000 cases have been filed against the company all over the U.S. claiming that their talc-based products increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer, and that the company knows that. Pretty much all of the plaintiff’s cases have been successful, with the exception of Johnson & Johnson persuading a New Jersey court in 2016 to throw out two cases based on a “lack of scientific evidence.”
But, it’s not just Johnson & Johnson that’s facing lawsuits. Their talc supplier, Imerys Talc, was forced to pay $50,000 as well. This wasn’t the first time that the company had to pay for its wrongdoings, as it was found guilty in another talcum case, too.
The company said in a statement that it is “confident in the consensus of government agencies and professional scientific organizations that have reviewed the safety of talc.”
Why Is Talc So Dangerous?
Talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral made up primarily of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. In powder form, it absorbs moisture efficiently and helps reduce friction, which means it can keep skin dry and prevent rashes, hence why it’s used in baby powder. According to the American Cancer Society, talc in its natural form, which contains asbestos, can cause cancer.
The link between talc and cancer was first speculated in the 1970s when tissues from patients with ovarian and cervical tumours were found to contain particles of talc. There are many other studies that have suggested this as well, though some experts argue against it.
Dr. Adetunji Toriola, a Washington University epidemiologist at Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis, explained, “We know that inflammation increases ovarian cancer risk. We know talcum powder causes inflammation. The question is, does talc cause cancer by causing inflammation in the ovaries?”
Dr. Daniel Cramer, a Harvard University epidemiologist, discovered a potential link between talc and ovarian cancer in 1982. He has published numerous studies since then, and his findings suggest that talc exposure increases the risk of ovarian cancer by 30%.
As with most conventional products, however, there are all-nature alternatives to talc-based baby powders! Here’s a link to a DIY Natural recipe for baby powder.
If you’re interested in learning more about conventional products that can cause cancer, check out our CE article here:
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