Most of us will recognise the unmistakable white bottle that holds one of Johnson & Johnson’s most well-known products – baby powder, or, talcum powder.
If it doesn’t stir up memories of powdering your baby’s behind, it could well ring a bell with most people as a way to dry off after a shower.
But this seemingly innocent product might not be as safe as we once believed, if recent allegations against the product and the brand, Johnson & Johnson, are to be believed.
Just recently, a woman in Virginia filed a lawsuit against the skincare brand, claiming that the talcum powder product had caused her cancer. 62-year-old Louis Slemp was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, and it has now spread to her liver.
Slemp claims that the fact that she used the talcum-based product for a long time – over 40 years – is the reason she is now suffering from the disease.
She eventually won the case, and on 6th May this year, was awarded a staggering $110.5 million as a result.
And hers isn’t the first claim of it’s kind against Johnson & Johnson. 2,000 women across America have also filed similar lawsuits against the company, claiming that extended use of the talcum-based products have lead to significant damage to their health.
In 2016, the family of Jackie Fox, who died of ovarian cancer after having used the baby powder for years, were also awarded £51.5 million in damages.
Their biggest pay-out so far…
But it’s not the only case the company have been forced to pay out for. Johnson and Johnson have made their biggest pay out so far over the powder’s link to cancer, awarding cancer sufferer Eva Echeverria, from Los Angeles, a staggering £324 million in damages.
Eva is said to have used talcum powder on a daily basis beginning since the 1950s, until she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007.
Eva’s lawyer, Mark Robinson, revealed at trial, “Mrs Echeverria is dying from this ovarian cancer and she said to me all she wanted to do was to help the other women throughout the whole country who have ovarian cancer for using Johnson & Johnson for 20 and 30 years,
“She really didn’t want sympathy. She just wanted to get a message out to help these other women.”
So presumably there really is a link between the powder and cancer?
According to Dr Dillner, writing for The Guardian, “There is a plausible mechanism by which talc could promote cancer – by triggering long-term inflammation. But since ovarian cancer is uncommon, the use of talc will only raise a small risk by a smallish amount (up to a third).
He continued, “There are stronger risks for ovarian cancer, such as genetic abnormalities, hormone replacement therapy and being overweight. Studies do not show a relationship between the amount of talc used and the likelihood of ovarian cancer – if there was a strong link they would do.”
Dr Dillner summarised that it could be best to stay away, saying “But while talc may not be unsafe, a fluffy towel is safer. The popularity of talc is already waning and won’t be helped by more lawsuits.”