In the most recent award related to talcum powder use, a St. Louis jury awarded $55 million on May 2, 2016, to a woman who had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011. Gloria Ristesund of South Dakota had used Johnson & Johnson talc-based products, which include JOHNSON’s® Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower®, for feminine hygiene purposes for nearly 40 years. The lawsuit alleged that the company knew that talc posed a serious health risk but continued to sell products containing it. Ristesund is now in remission.
This was the second consecutive verdict ordering Johnson & Johnson to pay a multi-million-dollar award related to its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower talcum powder products. In February, a jury awarded $72 million to the family of Jacqueline Fox, who died from ovarian cancer in 2015 after regularly using Johnson & Johnson talcum products for more than 35 years.
A 1971 British research study first raised the possibility that talcum powder was associated with ovarian cancer. The researchers analyzed 13 ovarian tumors and found talc particles “deeply embedded” in 10 of them,. In 1982, a study by Dr. Daniel Cramer, an epidemiologist at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, showed the first statistical link between genital talc use and ovarian cancer. Since that study was published, an additional 20 epidemiological studies have all found that long-term perineal talc use increases the risk of ovarian cancer by about 33 percent. For chronic users, studies have shown an increased risk of between 200%-500%.