Johnson & Johnson Pulls Talc Baby Powder from U.S. Market

(June 16, 2020) For more than a century, Johnson & Johnson has proudly advertised its signature product — Johnson’s Baby Powder. The monster-sized multinational corporation continues to stand by that product as safe and effective; but it has nevertheless finally conceded something to those who have been saying for years that J&J’s talc-based powder contains asbestos that can cause ovarian cancer.

Johnson announced last month that it will stop selling its talc-based baby powder in North America.

Related: Johnson’s Flagship Product Trouble

The company says it will still allow stores to sell what talcum powder they still have in stock. Johnson will also continue selling the cornstarch version of its baby product line. But in addition to halting U.S. sales, J&J will also halt distribution of its talc-based powder in other markets around the world.

Johnson & Johnson made the announcement in a May 19, 2020 press release.  The company attributed its decision to declining demand. Johnson claimed that decline was “fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising.”

Research Links Talc-Based Powder to Ovarian Cancer

Talc is a soft mineral mined from geological sites that also contain asbestos.  Asbestos is a known carcinogen that has, for many years, been linked to lung cancer and mesothelioma, a disease that has triggered hundreds of thousands of lawsuits against asbestos manufacturers. Because the two minerals are mined in such close proximity, the contamination risk is high.

Manufacturers that use asbestos-contaminated talc in their products expose consumers to a heightened risk of cancer. Women who have used talc-based baby powder have exhibited an increased likelihood of developing ovarian cancer, which typically occurs after frequent talc use over long periods of time.

Evidence Links Talc to Ovarian Cancer

Some evidence linking talc to ovarian cancer came from the American Association for Cancer Research, which studied ovarian cancer cases in more than 8,500 women. The AACR discovered that women who had frequently used the product showed a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Other evidence linking asbestos-contaminated talcum powder to cancer came from The Epidemiology journal. A study published there showed that dusting the genital area with talcum powder raised the risk of developing ovarian cancer by 33 percent.

Because the powder has a natural ability to absorb moisture, women have used it for years around their genital areas.

The Talc-Cancer Mechanism

During the dusting process, powder particles can travel through the vagina and move to the ovaries, where they become trapped. The trapped particles cause inflammation, over time, which ultimately generates cancer cells.

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer responded to the volumes of studies conducted of talc by classifying talcum powder on the genitals as a possible carcinogen to humans.

Johnson & Johnson Talc Defense Persists

Johnson & Johnson’s talcum-based baby powder constitutes .5 percent of its total U.S. health business sales. J&J insists, as it has for decades, that anyone discovering asbestos in its product has performed faulty testing.

Reuters Research uncovers more Talc-Cancer Evidence

In December 2018, Reuters revealed its findings from deep research into thousands of Johnson & Johnson internal memos, documents, and reports.  Reuters found that J&J’s talc-based powder products tested positive for asbestos in the 2000s. Reuter’s further unearthed J&J’s attempts to influence U.S. regulators who were examining J&J products and considering the imposition of limits on asbestos in talc-based products.

Talc-Asbestos Cancer Causation Arguments Proven

Scientific research has proven the causation element for ovarian cancer negligence lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson’s. The Reuters research also supports the argument that J&J failed to warn consumers about the cancer risks of using talcum-based powder products.