Talcum Powder

At Simon Greenstone Panatier, we know about the dangerous link between talcum powder and cancer, not only because we are knowledgeable about the medicine and the case law, but also because we have prevailed in talc-cancer cases.

In fact, we have successfully represented numerous women who have contracted cancer from use of talcum powder products, including obtaining one of the largest jury verdicts in a California talcum powder/cancer case.

Since then, there have been even more cases where juries have found that talc caused ovarian cancer. And in the tabs below, we want pass along some useful information and perhaps answer some of your questions.


What is talcum powder and what are its uses?

Talcum powder is developed from talc, or magnesium silicate, a mineral composed primarily of magnesium, silicon and oxygen. When it is finely ground into a soft white powder, talc absorbs moisture and helps reduce friction, which is why it has long been used to keep skin dry and prevent rashes.

Talcum Powder is frequently used to treat diaper rash in babies and minor skin irritations, as well as to lessen odors in adults. With its silky texture and ability to reduce friction, talcum powder is a component of a number of cosmetics and personal hygiene products including, but not limited to:

  • Perfumed body powder
  • Face powder
  • Medicated body powder
  • Powdered blush
  • Powdered eye shadow
  • Sanitary and incontinence pads
  • Deodorant powder
  • Foot powder
  • Baby powder

Talc has a number of other medical and industrial applications, including uses as a lubricant, a food additive, an astringent and an anti-caking agent. Since it is resistant to heat, electricity and acids, talc also is used for surfaces of lab counter-tops and electrical switchboards. Basketball players have been known to use it to keep their hands dry, and most tailor’s chalk or French chalk is made of talc.

Are there potential dangers to using talcum powder?

Concerns have been raised about a dangerous link between the regular use of talcum powder and various types of cancer, including mesothelioma and ovarian cancer.

Research on these issues dates back for decades. One of the concerns is that talcum powder particles migrate through the vagina into the ovaries, where they can remain trapped for years, potentially causing inflammation that could lead to cell proliferation and DNA damage.

In 2008, a Harvard epidemiologist reaffirmed that the weekly use of talcum powder on the genital area increases the risk of ovarian cancer by 33 percent.

Juries have also found that talcum powder caused ovarian cancer and awarded millions to the victims. Other lawsuits have been filed. Research on the subject continues – as does the routine use of talcum powder.

Is there a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer is cancer of the ovaries, which are part of a woman’s reproductive system. This cancer grows in the tissues covering the ovaries and can spread to other parts of the body. The most common symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

  • Frequent bloating
  • Pain in the belly or pelvis
  • Trouble eating, or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary problems, such as an urgent need to urinate or urinating more often than usual.

Several case-control studies on the subject have found an increased risk for ovarian cancer in women who have regularly used talcum powder. Research on the subject continues. A number of juries have found that talcum powder caused ovarian cancer and many lawsuits are pending.

Specifically, the danger pertains to the frequent use of talcum powder on the genital area, which has long been a routine practice for many American women. In fact, research shows that approximately one-in-five American women routinely use talcum powder on their genital area.

When talcum powder is applied to the genital area or used on tampons, sanitary napkins or diaphragms, there is concern that the powder particles are able to travel through the vagina, uterus and fallopian tubes to the ovaries.

According to research, talc particles in the ovaries can cause inflammation to develop because the body takes years to break down these particles. Inflammation in the ovaries can set the stage for cell proliferation and DNA damage, which can lead to the development of ovarian cancer cells.

There is a range of research on the subject of talcum powder use on the genital area and a link to cancer that dates back decades. Some of the findings include:

  • Researchers in 1971 found talc particles while studying ovarian cellular tissues of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The findings were published in The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the British Commonwealth.
  • Harvard Cancer Center epidemiologist Dr. Daniel Cramer, whose research focuses on ovarian cancer, has found the cosmetic use of talcum powder as one of three events that increase the risk for ovarian cancer that is associated with chronic inflammation affecting the lower or upper genital tract.
  • In 2003, Anticancer Research published a meta-analysis of data from 16 previous studies that concludes that perineal baby powder use is associated with a 33 percent increase in ovarian cancer risk.
  • Dr. Margaret Gates, a Harvard epidemiologist, reaffirmed in 2008 that the weekly use of talcum powder on the genital area increases the risk of ovarian cancer by 33 percent.
  • A study published in Cancer Prevention Research in 2013 studied data on about 2,000 women who used talcum powder on the genital area. The findings suggested a 20-30 percent higher risk of ovarian cancer for women who use talc body powder compared to those who don’t.

There also have been a number of verdicts regarding talcum powder use and cancer including:

  • A jury in Missouri awarded $72 million in damages in February 2016 to the family of a woman whose death was caused by ovarian cancer that was linked to her use of talc-based baby powder.
  • A jury in May 2016 issued a $55 million verdict to a South Dakota woman who blamed her ovarian cancer on her use of talcum powder.
  • Additional lawsuits have been filed on behalf of women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

What products contain talc?

Talcum powder is an unregulated substance in the United States. There are a variety of cosmetic and hygiene products that contain talc including:

  • Perfumed body powder
  • Face Powder
  • Medicated body powder
  • Powdered blush
  • Powdered eye shadow
  • Sanitary and incontinence pads
  • Deodorant powder
  • Foot powder
  • Baby powder

Carefully read the label of any powder-like products. Some manufacturers have switched to using corn starch instead of talcum powder in their products.

What should I do if I have used talcum powder on myself or a loved one?

If you or a loved one are using a product containing talc, you should consult a doctor about whether to continue using the product.

What to Look for in an Attorney

If you or a loved one has suffered from ovarian cancer and has a history of using talcum powder, you may have grounds for a lawsuit and compensation. It’s imperative you choose an attorney who understands what you’re going through and who is qualified to aggressively handle your case with your best interests in mind.

Choosing the right lawyer requires asking the right questions, rather than just picking any legal representation. The firm you choose should have experience with and knowledge of cases similar to your own. Don’t be afraid to ask your attorney about previous cases and settlements similar to your own case.

You should also make certain that the law firm you choose has the capabilities and resources to handle the case themselves, rather than outsourcing it to other legal professionals. Your attorneys should be able to explain every step of the legal process to you and keep you informed of the details of your case.

Our trial lawyers at Simon Greenstone Panatier have plenty of experience in this arena. We also are strong, dedicated advocates for our clients and will persevere in securing the best outcome for your case.

Due to the complexity of these cases, filing a lawsuit involving talc and cancer requires significant resources and exceptional legal skills. From the moment we are hired, our attorneys start investigating your case to ensure we have all the facts, and we will work hard to hold the responsible parties accountable to the fullest extent of the law. We are your advocates and we don’t get paid unless we prevail on your behalf.

Our attorneys will outline the entire process for you, answer all of your questions and make sure you are only as involved as you need to be as your case progresses. Each step in this complicated legal process requires a skilled, experienced legal team with the resources to match those of the responsible companies and their insurers.

Finally, if your case needs to be appealed, you want your attorneys to have the experience and know-how to handle any appeals. You don’t want to have to leave the attorneys you’ve been working with at this important time. You need someone who knows the ins-and-outs of your case to continue representing you if you have to make an appeal. We are that law firm.

If you would like to know more, contact us for a confidential consultation.