Baby Powder Lawsuit: Did You Know Its Possible Link to Ovarian Cancer?

We know many things that cause cancer, but recent court filings have brought to light a new carcinogen that you may not be aware of — baby powder.

You wouldn’t think it to be harmful, but there are now strong assertions of a link between talcum powder and cancer. The recent filings of baby powder lawsuits have been on the rise and are a cause for concern.

It does not seem like a harmful product. After all, how can something with the word “baby” in it be that bad? Most of us have been exposed to it and even exposed our children to it, but after knowing the facts, many people have ceased using the product altogether.

Lawsuits over baby powder are now on the rise. So are these claims valid? Is there an actual correlation between talcum powder and cancer?

Talcum Powder Baby Ovarian Cancer Statistics. Image of doctor on the right. Blue background with grey text explaining some history of talcum powder use and ovarian cancer.

Here, we are going to look at the origin of the product, the potential dangers we have already known, the link between baby powder and ovarian cancer, some of the recent baby powder lawsuit settlements, and how you can find out if you qualify as a litigant in a talcum powder lawsuit.

A Great Idea That Appealed to Our Senses

Ah, the smell of baby powder. A product that has been used for more than a century to keep an infant’s rear end dry. It is part of our daily lives and we even equate the smell of the product with a newborn baby. So where did it come from?

Johnson & Johnson invented the product in 1892, after adding perfume to Italian talcum. It was marketed for use with sanitary napkins that mothers would use after childbirth. It increased in popularity to the point of being used in cosmetics and other sanitary products.


One of the uses that it’s very important to remember for the purpose of filing a talcum powder lawsuit is its ability to absorb moisture and eliminate odors. People have used it for decades as a way to “stay fresh” by patting their body with it (under the arms and in their private areas). Unbeknownst to them, this is likely a cause of cancer that we are now talking about here.

Harmful Effects Outside of Ovarian Cancer

Recent cases have cited a relationship between baby powder and ovarian cancer. However, there have been warnings about the use of the product in general prior to these filings. These warnings are mainly due to potential hazards from breathing the tiny particles of the world’s finest mineral.

Johnson & Johnson baby power, red arrow and Talcum Powder Warning Label

The American Academy of Pediatrics has warned parents that the use of baby powder can cause breathing trouble for babies. This is due to the particles building up in their lungs. The particles are easy to inhale and almost impossible to keep from going airborne.

It can become even more dangerous when an infant has other health problems such as a respiratory infection, respiratory syncytial virus, or congenital heart disease. Even the packaging warns people not to breathe the stuff.

The First Baby Powder Lawsuit

The first case filed over talcum-based powder was a small victory for the pharmaceutical industry. However, the ruling set a precedent that continues to have a rippling effect.

Diane Berg was just 49 years old when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. That was in 2006, three years before she brought her lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson. Berg testified that she had always used the product, sprinkling it in her underwear for a fresh smell.

Berg filed suit against J&J and in 2013 they offered her a settlement in the amount of $1.3 million. She turned down the offer and took the case to trial. Unfortunately for Berg, she received no monetary compensation.

If she did not receive any compensation, why was the case important? While Berg walked away without any money, the jury in the case did confirm a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer.

Talcum Powder and Cancer: Are They Related And Who Knew About It?

According to the jury in the Berg case, there is a correlation between talcum powder and cancer. That jury heard testimony from doctors and experts in the field and came to the conclusion that it is likely a cause of ovarian cancer. But what about expertise outside that case?

As with any litigation against a pharmaceutical company, it is essential to know if they were aware of potential dangers and still failed to notify those who used the product.

In addition to research in the 1970s that found talc to contain asbestos, there have been numerous studies since that have shown a potential connection between talc and ovarian cancer. While many of the studies agreed that more research was needed to be done, it was actually Johnson & Johnson who agreed to do more research.


A study authored by Dr. Daniel W. Cramer that took place between 1978 and 1981 showed that 40% of patients in the study with ovarian cancer had dusted their genital areas with talcum powder (or dusted it on sanitary napkins).

“We agree more study is needed, and we are going to conduct appropriate new studies,” said Johnson & Johnson public relations officer, James Murray, of the study. “We feel there is a vast amount of published research on talc in humans and animals that has shown no tendency of pure cosmetic-grade talc to cause cancer.”

So, Johnson & Johnson dismissed the Cramer study citing other studies it claims show no correlation between cosmetic-grade talc and cancer. However this does show they were aware of the possibility.

Actual knowledge by the company along with other studies on talc have been presented in court for baby powder lawsuit cases. It is up to the court to determine what a manufacturer knew and their duty (or lack thereof) to inform consumers.

Is There a Safe Baby Powder?

The term baby powder and talcum powder have become synonymous. However, we need to focus on what makes them harmful, which is the talcum. Some products do not use talcum and instead use a substitute such as corn starch.

In the 1970s, some talc that was mined in the United States, Canada, and Europe was found to contain asbestos, a known carcinogen. This was topped off by a study conducted by Mount Sinai Medical Center in 1973 that found asbestos in 10 of 20 samples taken of talc-based cosmetics.

The lawsuits over baby powder currently being litigated have focused on the use of talcum powder (or baby powder which contains talc). You also need to know that talcum powder is an over the counter substance that does not require a prescription. It also does not require approval from the Food & Drug Administration which means we rely on the manufacturer’s statements that the product is safe.

Recent Baby Powder Class Action Lawsuits

There have been many recent baby powder lawsuit settlements in the tens of millions of dollars. In addition, there are thousands of these claims currently pending throughout the United States.

Here are some of the most notable verdicts and settlements reached with Johnson & Johnson over its talcum powder products.

  • $72 million verdict: A jury ordered J&J to pay $72 million in damages to the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer in 2015. She had used the product for over 50 years and the jury found that her cancer was a direct result of using the powder.
  • $55 million verdict: A jury awarded $55 million in damages to a woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Despite suffering from endometriosis which already put her at risk of getting ovarian cancer, the jury ruled that the use of talc powder increased her chances of getting cancer by 200%.

Who Qualifies as a Litigant?

Based on recent settlements and jury verdicts, there are several factors that have been spelled out for someone to qualify as a plaintiff in a baby powder lawsuit. Keep in mind that these are simply guidelines based on recent verdicts.


Meeting all of the requirements gives you a better chance of joining a class action, but we still recommend you seeking a consultation if you feel you were harmed despite not meeting the criteria.

In all, there are six factors to file a Johnson & Johnson talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit. These include:

The cancer must be an ovarian-type cancer.

  1. The use of talcum powder (baby powder) must have been a daily habit with the minimum of five years use.
  2. The woman must have used Johnson & Johnson baby powder (talcum powder).
  3. The woman must have dusted her genital area with the talcum powder.
  4. There must be positive biopsy showing evidence of talcum powder.
  5. The woman must not have a genetic disorder pre-disposing her to ovarian cancer, like the BRCA 1 gene or BRCA 2 gene.

Summing Up Talcum Powder Lawsuits

The use of baby powder is widespread and we have assumed for decades that it is safe. Recent lawsuits have proven otherwise. It is now linked to ovarian cancer in those who have used it over an extended period of time.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and you believe it could have been caused by baby powder, contact us for a free consultation.

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