MESA COUNTY, Colo. – It’s a common household item for many families — baby powder — a soft, sweet-smelling product for keeping skin dry and rash free. However recently, Johnson and Johnson has shelled out millions after juries found the product could be linked to ovarian cancer
Lawsuits alleged that Johnson and Johnson’s baby powder and other Talcum products caused ovarian cancer. Juries found the company liable, awarding $72 million to one victim, and $55 million to another.
“It hurt so badly,” said Judy Hackney, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in November. “As time went on, I could feel that the pain was getting worse
Hackney believes her cancer was caused by 60 years of using talcum powder. Hackney said that after seeing commercials and news of recent lawsuits on TV, she wondered if the powder was linked to her cancer diagnosis.
If I had known, I would not have used it,” Hackney said. “I feel like I have been taken. If it had been on the label, I would not have used it.”
It’s that lack of a label that has lawyers, like Hackney’s, fighting a battle against the multibillion dollar company.
There have been studies, going back to the 1960’s showing that the use of talcum powder causes ovarian cancer,” said Nick Mayle, a lawyer with Killian Davis, Richter & Mayle, PC. “If you have a prolonged exposure to talcum powder, if you’ve been using it your entire life or years or months, you have a 20 to 30 percent increased risk of developing ovarian cancer as a result.”
Mayle said most baby powder bottles do not have a warning label to alert consumers about the potential risks.
“How many millions of women or parents would choose not to use baby powder either on themselves or their children, if they were aware of this risk,” said Mayle.
A local gynecologist tells us that finding exact causes for any disease can be a challenge.
“We see ovarian cancer so infrequently, said Dr. Ronald Stewart with Colorado West Womancare. “So connecting it directly to the use of talcum powder, which was a pretty common use years back, would be difficult to do,”
Dr. Stewart offers an alternative for women, just to be on the safe side.
“There probably is a small increased risk, but it’s not a gigantic risk,” Dr. Stewart said. “It’s been recommended that if you need some sort of powder to maintain dryness that corn starch is a good substitute.”
Hackney is now trying to warn other women, and hopes the company will stop selling talcum powder.
“I hope they’ll remove the product from the shelves,” Hackney said. “It’s kind of disheartening to know that I’m not the only one doing this.”
Doctors say to talk to your physician if you have symptoms of ovarian cancer and go through a screening test immediately. Sometimes symptoms are difficult to distinguish, so if you have any concern it’s important to be checked out.
According to the American Cancer Society, the most common symptoms of ovarian cancer are bloating, pelvic or stomach pain, trouble eating and frequent urination.