How exactly is Talcum Powder harmful?

Talcum powder is made primarily from “Talc”, a naturally occurring mineral that is used in baby powders as well as other cosmetic and personal care products because it is effective at absorbing moisture, reducing friction, and preventing rashes. In its natural form, some talc contains asbestos, a carcinogen known to cause cancers in and around the lungs when inhaled.

The FDA does not allow talc-based products to contain any asbestos. However, cosmetics are not required to be tested or approved by the FDA before they land on store shelves, so there’s no guarantee that they haven’t been contaminated.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is part of the World Health Organization (WHO). Its major goal is to identify causes of cancer.

Effects of usage of Talcum Powder Placement

IARC classifies talc that contains asbestos as “carcinogenic to humans.”

Based on the lack of data from human studies and on limited data in lab animal studies, IARC classifies inhaled talc not containing asbestos as “not classifiable as to carcinogenicity in humans.”

Based on limited evidence from human studies of a link to ovarian cancer, IARC classifies the perineal (genital) use of talc-based body powder as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

Talcum Powder Lawsuits Overview

Associated Products:  Johnson’s Baby Powder, Shower-to-Shower Body Powder, other talc-based products

Companies Involved:   Johnson & Johnson, Imerys Talc

Common Uses:  To keep skin comfortable, dry and feeling soft

How Many Lawsuits:  13,000+

Major Side Effects: Ovarian cancer

Settlement Details: No Settlements

Lawsuit Locations: District of New Jersey & Various States

Talcum Powder and Cancer

Ovarian Cancer

It has been suggested that talcum powder might cause cancer in the ovaries if the powder particles (applied to the genital area or on sanitary napkins, diaphragms, or condoms) were to travel through the vagina, uterus, and fallopian tubes to the ovary.Many studies have looked at the possible link between talcum powder and cancer of the ovaries.Robyn Andersen, PhD, an ovarian cancer researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has stated that “We know it’s a possible risk factor, we just don’t know how [big] of a risk factor it is.”


Research indicates that talc contaminated with asbestos and asbestiform minerals can lead to the development of Mesothelioma. (Read more about Mesothelioma under the ASBESTOS section on this website.) If talcum powder products were made from a talc deposit containing asbestos or asbestiform minerals, the products are likely contaminated with asbestos.

Other Health Effects

Respiratory problems in infants.

Talcum powder is made up of small particles that can be inhaled and cause lung irritation. Babies can easily inhale particles when it is being used on their bottoms and may become ill. Problems associated with inhalation of talcum powder include shallow and fast breathing, coughing, blue tint to the baby’s skin, diarrhea, vomiting, and convulsions. Because of the serious dangers of respiratory problems, the American Academy of Paediatrics does not recommend using baby powders containing talc on babies.

General respiratory problems.

When adults inhale talc, they can also develop respiratory problems, such as wheezing, coughing, and shallow breathing, or chronic lung irritation.

Asthma and pneumonia.

Inhalation of talcum powder can cause more sensitive people to develop symptoms of asthma or pneumonia.

Important facts with regards to Talcum Powder Suits

The third verdict, in St. Louis, was a watershed, broadening the manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson’s, potential liability: 22 plaintiffs were the first to succeed with a claim that asbestos-tainted Baby Powder and Shower to Shower talc, caused ovarian cancer, when the jury awarded them $4.69 billion in damages. A majority talc cases have been brought by women with ovarian cancer who say they regularly used J&J talc products as a perineal antiperspirant and deodorant.

Imerys North America, a major talc supplier for Johnson & Johnson, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February 2019 amid mounting claims that asbestos contamination in its talc caused mesothelioma and ovarian cancer

While Johnson & Johnson denies that its talcum powder products are unsafe, more studies continue to point to a link between its use and serious health problems—especially ovarian cancer. As a result, over 1,200 individual lawsuits and at least two class action lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson by women who developed ovarian cancer. Two of the cases went to jury trials in 2016 and resulted in multi-million dollar awards that included punitive damages.


Medical costs incurred due to the cancer, including diagnostic tests, treatments, and follow-up care as well as:
  • Other costs related to treatment, such as travel to and from a specialist.
  • Lost income due to the inability to work for the person diagnosed and/or their caretaker.
  • Pain and suffering caused by the condition.
  • Funeral costs for individuals who passed away from the disease.

The best way to determine whether you may be able to receive compensation in punitive damages or compensatory damages for your diagnosis is by talking to a reputable talcum powder lawyer.

A Talcum Powder Attorney can help you understand what compensation may be available to you based on your circumstances. If you or a loved one have suffered or are suffering from any of these life-threatening diseases, after having been exposed to Talcum Powder and are considering filing a lawsuit, consider contacting an Talcum Powder Attorney for a free case evaluation.

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