What is Talcum Powder?
Talcum Powder is a powder made from talc, a mineral containing magnesium, silicon and oxygen. It is commonly used to control moisture and reduce friction on the body which helps to prevent rashes and irritation. Many everyday products contain talcum powder, including baby powder and cosmetics for the face and body. There are many manufacturers of talcum powder including Johnson and Johnson and Valeant Pharmaceuticals North America.
Talcum powder is still sold to millions of Americans each year despite it’s link to Ovarian Cancer.
What is Ovarian Cancer?
Ovarian Cancer is a cancer that afflicts the ovaries, a female reproductive organ. There are 3 types of cells found in the ovary. Each of these cells can grow into a tumor:
- Epithelial tumors start from the cells that cover the outer surface of the ovary. Most ovarian tumors are epithelial cell tumors
- Germ cell tumors start from the cells that produce the eggs (ova)
- Stromal tumors start from structural tissue cells that hold the ovary together and produce the female hormones estrogen and progesterone
The most common form of ovarian cancer is a cancerous epithelial tumor, or carcinoma. Of all diagnosed cases, 85% to 90% prove to be this type of cancer. Ovarian cancer is treated in a variety of ways, often requiring two or more of the following:
- Hormone therapy
- Targeted therapy
- Radiation therapy
Ovarian Cancer has a 5 year relative survival rate of 45% (this includes all types of the cancer). However, if ovarian cancer is detected before it metastasizes (spreads) to other parts of the body, it’s 5 year relative survival rate is 92%.
What are the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?
Ovarian cancer often has no warning signs or symptoms in its initial stages. In later stages, women may experience vague symptoms such as loss of appetite coupled with weight loss. If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor immediately:
- Pain in the abdomen or pelvis
- Bloating, change in bowel habits, fluid in the abdomen, indigestion or nausea
- Fatigue or loss of appetite
- Abdominal fullness or lump in the abdomen
- Weight loss
How can I tell if I have Ovarian Cancer?
Only a trained oncologist can properly diagnose ovarian cancer. It is important to note that if you experience any of the side effects listed above, it is recommended that you seek immediate medical attention. Below is a list of characteristics of women who are at risk of ovarian cancer:
- Ages 65 and up
- Started menstruating at an early age (before 12)
- Have not given birth to any children
- Had her first child after 30,
- Experienced menopause after 50,
- Has never taken oral contraceptives.
- Infertility, regardless of whether or not a woman uses fertility drugs
- Hormone replacement therapy
Does Talcum Powder Cause Ovarian Cancer?
There have been a number of studies that show the use of talcum powder presents an increased risk in ovarian cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies the perineal (genital) use of talc-based body powder as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” It is important to note that studies are still being conducted on talcum powder in its relation to ovarian cancer. If you developed ovarian cancer after using talcum powder, you are not alone.
What are the side effects of Talcum Powder?
Talcum powder produces many wide-ranging side effects in short term use. It has also been linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer in long term use. Common side effects include:
- Throat irritation
- Low blood pressure
Long term side effects include:
- Chest Pain
- Twitching facaial muscles
- Trouble urinating
- Lung failure
Has action been taken against Talcum Powder manufacturers?
The Huffington Post Reports, “The first talcum powder lawsuit was filed in 2009 by Diane Berg, a woman from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Berg, who is a physician assistant, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006 when she was just 49 years old.” The story goes on to state, “She sued the pharmaceutical giant blaming it for gross negligence and fraud, and a few years later, in 2013, Johnson & Johnson came to her offering a deal. She was offered an out of court settlement of $1.3 million if she would settle down her case and drop all the accusations. But when the woman heard that she had to sign a confidentiality clause, she decided to refuse. “It was never about the money,” she said in an interview, all she cared about was warning people around the world about how dangerous the Baby Talcum powder was.”
Diane Berg was the first of hundreds who would follow in her footsteps, demanding accountability from drug giant Johnson & Johnson, Valeant Pharmaceuticals North America and other manufacturers. Many of these suits claim the manufacturer was aware of an elevated risk of ovarian cancer, yet chose not to disclose the information to its consumers.
$67.5 Million verdict handed out in Missouri court
On October 27th, 2016, a Missouri court handed down a $67.5 million verdict against talcum powder manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. This is the third defeat for the medical giant, who maintains their stance that talcum powder does not cause cancer and that medical studies proving so need more information. The $70 million verdict was the most recent of 3 talcum suits heard in St. Louis. The first 2 saw verdicts of $72 million in February 2016 and $55 million in May 2016. As more information on talcum powder and its link to cancer continues to surface, thousands more victims are expected to file suit against Johnson & Johnson and others, who saw enormous profits of over $71 billion in 2016 alone.
Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer in summary:
Talcum Powder is a powder made from talc, a mineral containing magnesium, silicon and oxygen. It is commonly used to control moisture and reduce friction on the body, helping to prevent rashes and irritation. Talcum powder can be found in many consumer products including cosmetic products, adult and baby powder. There have been numerous studies that show the use of talcum powder presents an increased risk in ovarian cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies the perineal (genital) use of talc-based body powder as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” Ovarian cancer afflicts the female reproductive organ known as the ovary. Ovarian cancer has a 5 year relative survival rate of 45% (this includes all types of the cancer).
At the time of publication of this article, talcum powder is still available and is purchased by millions of women each year.