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Does talcum powder cause ovarian cancer?

Like so many women, you probably thought nothing about using talcum powder. It is on the store shelves, so it must be a safe product, right? Not so fast, talcum powder may be dangerous. Talc is the main ingredient in the powders.  In its natural form talc contains asbestos. Asbestos is a known carcinogen or cancer-causing agent. However, since the 1970's asbestos has been removed from talc-based powders.  But it is still not known how direct the link is between talcum powder and certain cancers.

The truth about talcum powder

According to a study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization (WHO), using the talc-based powder on your genitals can possibly cause cancer. The study also found that talc containing asbestos can cause cancer.  The findings are mixed when it comes to saying talc without asbestos can definitely cause cancer.  

The company being sued for using talcum powder in their product is Johnson & Johnson who makes Shower-to-Shower and Johnson's Baby Powder. Johnson & Johnson is currently facing more than 5,500 lawsuits. But Johnson & Johnson is not the only company using talcum powder. Talc is also in some cosmetics and other products.

A history of lawsuits

Like you, women may have been using the powders in their genital areas for years without being aware of any dangers. Juries across the country believe that there is a link between talcum use and ovarian cancer because these juries have been awarding women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer hundreds of millions of dollars in lawsuits. The awards cover medical costs, pain and suffering and punitive damages. The largest settlement amount was to a woman in California who received $417. The verdict was appealed and a new trial granted. In St. Louis, another woman was awarded more than $110 million for her talcum powder lawsuit. Johnson & Johnson plans on appealing the verdict.

There is presently not a direct scientific link to talcum powder causing cancer, but with 15,000 women dying each year from ovarian cancer it is imperative that research be done and causes and treatments found.  According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer starts in the ovaries, where a woman's eggs and hormones (such as progesterone and estrogen) are produced. The sad fact is that ovarian cancer is often not diagnosed until much later because the symptoms are like minor ailments like problems with digestion or stomach issues.

What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

According to the Mayo Clinic, ovarian cancer symptoms include:

  1. Pressure in your lower back or pelvis
  2. Menstruation changes
  3. Nausea, indigestion or bloating in the abdomen
  4. Low energy or fatigue
  5. Feeling full quicker, appetite changes, loss of appetite
  6. Bowel movement changes
  7. More frequent or urgent constipation or urination
  8. Increased girth in the abdomen

What to do if you have ovarian cancer and used talc

If you used talcum powder like so many other women, it is good to be aware of the possible ovarian cancer symptoms. You should check with your doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms.

While there is not a current direct link to talcum powder causing cervical or ovarian cancer, juries have found talcum powder manufacturers and distributors responsible.  You may speak with an attorney if you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and used talcum powder.

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