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Is there a relationship between Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer?

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According to Dr. Joanne Waldstreicher, extensive medical research has found no association between talc and ovarian cancer.  Dr. Waldstreicher is the Chief Medical Officer for Johnson & Johnson.  In a statement on Johnson & Johnson’s website, 30 years of studies have supported the safety of talc:  the Nurses’ Health Study by the Harvard School of Public Health published in 2009, the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Cohort by the U.S. National Institutes of Health published in 2014, various governmental and non-governmental agencies as well as other expert panels have reviewed and analyzed all available data, and none have concluded that talc can cause cancer.

So, is there a link between Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer?  What has made two juries rule significantly in favor of plaintiffs and against Johnson & Johnson?

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute found, “Our results provide little support for any substantial association between perineal talc use and ovarian cancer risk overall; however, perineal talc use may modestly increase the risk of invasive serous ovarian cancers.”

The Scientist Magazine presents both sides, and in a March 2, 2016 article, it was stated, “Most health agencies have not declared talc a risk factor for ovarian cancer, save for the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, which concluded in 2010 that ‘perineal use of talc-based body powder is possibly carcinogenic to humans.'”

So, why the large verdicts?  It may come down to Daniel Cramer, MD, ScD, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston and a prominent researcher in this field.  Dr. Cramer has been studying this issue since 1982, and he says, “There is about 30% increased risk for ovarian cancer with talc usage in the case-control studies, on average, and there is evidence of a dose-response relationship in some studies.”  Dr. Cramer is the physician who has testified in the trials, and apparently, jurors believe what he has to say.

In addition, jurors in the two lawsuits which have been tried to verdict, were able to view numerous exhibits which illustrated Johnson & Johnson was aware of this issue back in the mid to late ’90s as evidenced by the following Exhibits in the trial:  16 and 20.

One side says there is a link between Talc and Ovarian Cancer.  The other side says no.  Apparently, the juries are currently on one side more than the other to the tune of $127 million.