An estimated 20,000 women are diagnosed each year with ovarian cancer, and more than 14,000 die. The disease strikes about one in 70 women, though studies show that women who use talc-containing products on their genitals have a one in 50 chance of developing the disease. An expert at trial testified at least 45,000 women have died as a result of ovarian cancer that could be attributed to talcum powder use on the genitals, and estimated 1,500 women will die within the next year as a result of talc use.
Documents shown to the jury during the trial indicated that Johnson & Johnson’s own experts advised the company that numerous scientific studies supported a link between genital use of talcum powder and increased risk of ovarian cancer. In a letter dated in 1997 (See above), Dr. Alfred Wehner warns a J&J executive that anyone who continued to deny the evidence presented by these studies “…will be perceived by the public like it perceives the cigarette industry: denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.”