You may have missed an extremely important product discontinuation in mid-May. As one of Buffalo’s leading personal injury law firms, we want everyone to know that Johnson & Johnson has discontinued selling its talcum-based baby powder. If you still have this product in your house, we recommend you stop using it immediately.
Why did baby powder get discontinued?
Recently, there have been several multi-million-dollar verdicts against Johnson & Johnson because their baby powder contained cancer-causing asbestos. One reason for these huge verdicts is because juries were shown evidence that Johnson & Johnson was aware of asbestos in their baby powder for years. They covered up this information and continued to sell their dangerous product.
Despite verdicts awarding tens of millions of dollars to individual cancer victims and surviving family members, Johnson & Johnson continues to deny any wrongdoing. Even when discontinuing the sale of its product, the company did not admit that it was dangerous. Instead, they claim that they discontinued the product due to a dramatic decline in sales as word has spread of its link to cancer. Johnson & Johnson even went so far as to say that the drop in sales was due to “changes in consumer habits and fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising.”
Johnson & Johnson’s position that its product was safe is contradicted by its own decision to issue a voluntary recall in October 2019 due to the presence of asbestos in their baby powder. Johnson & Johnson has been forced to pay a staggering amount of money — numbering in the billions of dollars — due to lost lawsuits and other legal action related to talcum powder cancer cases.
Is there a connection between talcum powder and cancer?
Asbestos exposure is rare for people who are not in mining or construction. Over the last few decades, many people outside of these groups have been diagnosed with types of cancer commonly caused by asbestos. They began searching for answers. The use of talcum-based baby powder appears to be a common thread among many of those who suffered from otherwise unexplainable asbestos-related cancers.
Talcum powder is manufactured from a soft mineral called talc. It is usually found underground, often in the same location as asbestos. This can cause cross-contamination between them during the mining process. The United States passed laws in 1973 requiring all talcum-based products to be free of asbestos. Despite this law, asbestos still was found in talc during quality control testing, and some researchers have questioned the thoroughness of the quality checks.
According to a 2018 Reuters Investigation, “…[F]rom at least 1971 to the early 2000s, [Johnson & Johnson]’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos, and… company executives, mine managers, scientists, doctors and lawyers fretted over the problem and how to address it while failing to disclose it to regulators or the public.”
How many cancer cases are linked with baby powder?
Although it is impossible to know how many people developed cancer due to talcum powder use, a 2018 BBC article found more than 9,000 lawsuits seeking damages from Johnson & Johnson due to its talcum powder. Even more astonishing, according to a New York Times article last month, “As of late March, Johnson & Johnson faced 19,400 lawsuits related to talc body powders….”
These are only the cases where someone pursued legal action. We have no idea how many cancer survivors are unaware of any connection to Johnson & Johnson’s product or how many people passed away not knowing that their asbestos-related cancer was likely caused by their use of baby powder.
What kinds of cancer are linked with talcum powder?
Women who developed ovarian cancer following long term use of baby powder are one of the main groups who have sued Johnson & Johnson. Additionally, mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung and abdomen lining commonly caused by asbestos, has been linked to the product. The fine baby powder enters the air and is easily inhaled when applied to the skin.
I used baby powder — am I at risk of getting cancer?
Not everyone who has ever used talcum-based baby powder will develop cancer. That being said, you should keep an eye on your health if you used this product. Unfortunately, asbestos-based cancers may not appear until years after exposure. If you used it on your baby, watch your child’s health as well. If you’re worried, bring it up with your doctor, gynecologist or another licensed medical expert. They should be able to talk with you about your risk for talcum powder-linked cancers and let you know common symptoms to look for.