Talcum powder seems so innocent. After all, talc, a naturally-mined mineral, is the main component in baby powder. It’s generally considered safe, with the exception of the genital-perineal area in women—especially after considering a piece of 2016 published research concerning links to ovarian cancer.
While there have been studies stretching back decades linking talcum powder and ovarian cancer, a study published in the May 2016 issue of Epidemiology showed that using talcum powder in the genital-perineal area could increase a woman’s odds of developing ovarian cancer by as much as 44 percent.
Besides the study, 2016 saw three multi-million dollar awards, all against baby powder maker Johnson & Johnson, with regard to ovarian cancer and talcum powder. The company was found liable for not warning customers of the risks of talcum powder for women. The first verdict saw $72 million awarded to the family of an ovarian cancer victim; the second verdict handed down $55 million for a woman who had ovarian cancer but was eventually cured. However, the October 2016 award gave $70 million to a woman who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012 and who had used J&J’s talcum powder. It’s entirely possible that the study published in May 2016 helped the October case.
A Brief History of Talcum Powder-Ovarian Cancer Research
In 1971, British researchers found talc particles in the cancerous tissues of women who had ovarian cancer. Their findings started the ball rolling for all the other studies that followed:
- 1982: A case-control study (one that compares those with the disease with those who do not have it) first links ovarian cancer and using talc in the genital-perineal area.
- Dozens of studies followed that confirmed the links. Some of the bigger studies had their results published in the 1990s and 2000s. Ones in 1997 and 1999 found elevated risks associated with the use of talc and serous ovarian cancers.
- 2006: The International Agency for Research on Cancer declared that a woman’s use of talc in the genital-perineal area was possibly cancer-causing.
- 2008: Another study confirmed links between talc and the risks of serous invasive ovarian cancers.
The most recent study in 2016 mentioned above connected talcum powder usage with increased risks of serous invasive ovarian cancers, endometrioid cancers, and borderline serous and mucinous tumors. One of the important takeaways is that the study found a dose-response relationship, which means researchers found a cause-and-effect relationship between using talc for a long period of time and an increased risk of developing certain ovarian cancers. The researchers commented in their paper that they believed “the observations made here present a good case for talc carcinogenicity,” or talc as a cancer-causing agent.
What Types of Ovarian Cancer Are There?
Three kinds of cells make up the ovaries, and each cell type can turn into a different kind of tumor: epithelial (cells on the ovary’s outer surface), germ cell (cells that produce the eggs), and stromal (structural cells that produce female hormones). Around 90 percent of ovarian cancers are epithelial, and cancer studies involving talc concentrate on epithelial cancers.
Epithelial cancers of the ovaries can be of five different types:
- Clear cell.
- Mucinous (2016 study establishes links). About 4 percent of ovarian cancers are mucinous, meaning a tumor that is filled with mucus. This type of cancer does not respond well to chemotherapy.
- High-grade serous (2016 study establishes links). Serous cancers involve a fluid secreted by the serous membrane lining the ovaries. High-grade means that the cancer grows and spreads faster than low-grade cancers.
- Low-grade serous (2016 study establishes links). This cancer is the least common and is slow-growing. However, it is often not detected until it is in an advanced stage and is significantly resistant to chemotherapy.
The May 2016 study mentioned above established links between talcum powder use and epithelial ovarian cancers. A full 70 percent of all epithelial ovarian cancers are high-grade serous ones. These cancers are often not detected until the disease is advanced, so the prognosis is often poor.
What Are the Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?
Every woman should know the symptoms for ovarian cancer. Unfortunately, it is one of the cancers that often show little to no obvious signs in its early stages. Still, the symptoms that can appear in its initial stages are:
- Bloating or swelling of the abdomen
- Sensations of pressure or pain in the abdomen
- An increased need to urinate or increased urination
- Feeling abnormally full after eating or having difficulty eating.
Such symptoms should not be ignored if they persist over a period of time (weeks or months) and occur daily or almost daily. They are the most common signs of ovarian cancer.
Other symptoms that can appear include:
- Weight loss
- Back pain
- Painful intercourse
- Menstrual changes
- Post-menopausal vaginal bleeding.
While not all of these symptoms mean that you have ovarian cancer, having many of them, and having them persist over a period of time, means that you should see your doctor for further guidance. If you have been a regular user of talcum powder in your genital area over many years, it could be even more important that you visit your doctor.
For all types of ovarian cancers, the five-year survival rate is 45 percent, but women younger than 65 do better than those over 65. Unfortunately, cancer caused by regular talc use usually arises after many years, even decades, of application to the genital-perineal area. That can mean that the cancer sufferer is over 65. Stage 1 ovarian cancers, which are found only in one or both ovaries, have a five-year survival rate of 92 percent, but only about 15 percent are found this early.
Remember, the earlier the diagnosis, the more likely that the cancer’s treatment will succeed. The largest ovarian cancer risk has been found to be in women who had applied talc more than 10,000 times, or essentially 30 years of use of the product. If you have been using talcum powder in your genital-perineal area daily for many years and you have a diagnosis of serous or mucinous ovarian cancer, you may want to seek legal advice concerning the causes of your cancer.
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Filing a talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit is the only means that consumers have to hold talcum powder producers responsible for the harm they have caused. Most states have talc powder lawsuit time limitations. However, the majority of all persons who have developed ovarian cancer that is linked to talcum powder usage will fall within the time limitations if they contact an attorney quickly. You may be able to file a lawsuit for compensation for past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and funeral expenses.
At the Louthian Law Firm, we will listen to your individual circumstances and analyze the merits of your case absolutely free of charge. We work on a contingency basis, so you will pay no fees until we recover compensation for your injuries. Call us at 1-803-454-1200 or use our convenient online contact form to get started. From the moment of our first contact, we’ll be listening hard and working harder to see that justice prevails.