A receptionist who developed ovarian cancer after using Johnson’s Baby Powder for decades was recently awarded $417 million in damages by a Los Angeles jury. This could be the largest award in a lawsuit that links ovarian cancer to talcum powder.
Eva Echeverria is one of thousands of women who sued Johnson & Johnson over claims that the company’s baby powder caused their cancer. So far, only a few cases have gone to trial, but most have ruled against the corporation.
Baby powder has been used to prevent chafing on inner thighs and in underwear and feminine products for its drying effects.
Echeverria began using the product when she was 11-years-old. She continued to use it after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007. It wasn’t until she heard news reports of a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson that she stopped using baby powder.
A spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson stated that the company will appeal the verdict and “will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder”, according to The New York Times. Johnson & Johnson defended the safety of its product, citing a study completed earlier this year by the National Cancer Institute. The study found that “the weight of evidence does not support an association between perineal talc exposure and an increased risk of ovarian cancer.”
Studies on whether talcum powder causes ovarian cancer have been ongoing since the 1970s. The findings thus far have not been consistent and many scientists have called for additional research on this topic. Some scientists have hypothesized that there may be a connection between baby powder and cancer because talc crystals can travel up the genitourinary tract into the peritoneal cavity where the crystals may induce inflammation. Inflammation is thought to play a role in the development of ovarian cancer. Additionally, talc has been found in ovarian tumors.
The Food and Drug Administration denied requests in 2014 from citizens to require warning labels on talcum powder, according to The Washington Post. At that time, the agency did not find a link between talcum powder and cancer based on a review of scientific literature. Since then, the FDA has continued to receive “adverse event reports” that involve baby powder. The agency has decided to open a new review of the relationship between talcum powder and cancer.