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Johnson & Johnson Ordered To Pay $417 Million In Lawsuit Tying Baby Powder To Ovarian Cancer

22 August 2017, 9:18 am EDT By Allan Adamson Tech Times
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Eva Echeverria claimed she would have stopped using Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder had a warning been placed on it. What do scientific studies say about the link between baby powder and ovarian cancer?  ( Okan Caliskan | Pixabay )

A Los Angeles jury on Monday, Aug. 21, issued a $417-million verdict against Johnson & Johnson after it found the company liable for failing to warn a California woman who had been diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer about the risks associated with the use of talcum products.

Thousands Of Similar Cases

In a video-recorded deposition, 63-year-old Eva Echeverria said that she had been using the company's baby powder since she was 11 years old until 2016 when she saw a news report about a woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer who also used the same product.

Echeverria, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007, has undergone surgery to remove a softball-sized tumor but she is now near death and was not able to attend the trial. The plaintiff said that she would have stopped using the talcum product had Johnson & Johnson placed a warning on it.

Johnson & Johnson faces thousands of similar cases involving claims they developed cancer for using the company's products. Many women sprinkle baby powder on their inner thighs to prevent chafing while others place it on their sanitary pads, underwear and perineum for its drying and freshening effects.

Only a few of the cases have gone to trial. Most of the decisions, however, have so far been against the company. The New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson has lost four of five earlier cases that were tried by Missouri juries.

The company announced it would seek to overturn the decision.

"We will appeal today's verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson's Baby Powder," said Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Carol Goodrich.

Safety Of Talcum Powder

The talcum powder is one of Johnson & Johnson's best-known products, and the company stands firm on the safety of Johnson's Baby Powder. Company lawyers cited that scientific studies, the FDA and other federal agencies did not find talc products carcinogenic.

Several studies have investigated the link between the use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer but the results are mixed. Some studies hint of a slightly higher risk while some did not find any link at all.

The American Cancer Society, however, advises those concerned about the potential risks of using talcum powder to avoid or at least limit using consumer products that have it.

"Studies of personal use of talcum powder have had mixed results, although there is some suggestion of a possible increase in ovarian cancer risk," the American Cancer Society said. "There is very little evidence at this time that any other forms of cancer are linked with consumer use of talcum powder."

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