The use of talcum powder products on a woman’s genital area has been linked with an increased risk of ovarian cancer, a leading cause of death among women in the United States. 

What Are Talcum Powder Products? 

Talc is a mineral composed of several elements, including magnesium and silicon. Talc can be easily ground into a fine, white powder (also known as “talcum powder”). Talc powder absorbs moisture, oils and odors, and has an astringent effect on human skin. These properties make it a popular base for baby powders, foot powders and cosmetics. 

Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc. and its parent company, Johnson & Johnson, are the leading manufacturers of talc-based consumer products. Their Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products have been specifically marketed for feminine hygiene. For years, millions of women in the United States have used these products regularly, applying them to their genital area, sanitary napkins, tampons and underwear. 

The link between the use of talc-based products on a woman’s genital area and an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer was first reported in 1982. Since that time a growing number of studies have provided additional support for the contention that talc-based products increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer. 

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of death among women in the United States. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 20,000 American women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year, and approximately 14,500 women die from it annually.

Ovarian cancer may cause the following symptoms: 

  • Vaginal bleeding (particularly after menopause), or an unusual vaginal discharge.
  • Pain or pressure in the pelvic area.
  • Abdominal or back pain.
  • Bloating.
  • Feeling full too quickly, or difficulty eating.
  • A change in bathroom habits, such as more frequent or urgent need to urinate and/or constipation.

Because symptoms of ovarian cancer tend to be mild at the outset, the disease can often progress to advanced stages and spread to other areas of the body before detection.

Recent Talc and Ovarian Cancer Studies

Several studies have found that the application of talc-based products to a woman’s genital area increases the risk of ovarian cancer. For example, a study published in Cancer Prevention Research in June 2013 compared data on talc-based product use by 8,525 ovarian cancer patients and 9,859 controls. The study found an association between the use of talc-based powder in the genital area and an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

A study published in Epidemiology in April 2016, reported that regular use of talc-based powders in the genital area was associated with a 33% increase in ovarian cancer risk. 

A study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention in October 2016 reported that use of talc-based powder was associated with ovarian cancer risk in African-American women, and showed a correlation between the length of use and the increase in the risk. 

In 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Agency (FDA) began a research study exploring the potential link between ovarian cancer and talc in cosmetics. The FDA undertook this study in view of the rising number of studies linking talc-based powder to ovarian cancer, and because talc is often found in cosmetics. 


Thousands of lawsuits have been filed in the United States against Johnson & Johnson and Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc., claiming that the defendants knew about the risk of ovarian cancer associated with its talc-based products, but continued to promote and sell these products without any warnings. If consumers had been warned about the increased risk, many would not have used Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products. 

Juries in several cases tried to date have returned verdicts for the plaintiffs. 

How We Can Help 

If you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using talc-based products, you may be entitled to reimbursement for medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs. Attorneys at Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer P.A. may be able to help you recover compensation if you developed ovarian cancer after using talc-based products. As a nationally recognized personal injury law firm and one of New Jersey’s largest law firms, Wilentz is committed to helping clients with their cases.  

For a free consultation or more information about your legal options, please call the number below. Or, if you prefer to complete our free case evaluation form, our client relations representative will contact you shortly.