A Californian woman has just been awarded $417 million in compensation by a jury in Los Angeles, United States after she filed a lawsuit against the baby products giant Johnson & Johnson alleging that use of their baby powder for feminine hygiene caused her to develop ovarian cancer.
The lady, Eva Echeverria, has been using the brand's famous baby powder for dusting her intimates since 1950s. A routine that later led to her cancer diagnosis in 2007.
Mr. Mark Robinson, the plaintiff's lawyer, won the case by showing evidence in court that the company, Johnson & Johnson, had known for several decades that their products had the potential to cause ovarian cancer, but never mentioned it on their product labels to caution users.
Over 1200 Lawsuits Against the Baby Powder Brand
In a similar lawsuit a few months ago, a jury from St. Louis slapped Johnson & Johnson with a $114 million fine after a woman from Virginia complained that their baby powder was responsible for her ovarian cancer.
And though it was the highest sum awarded in a lawsuit against the company at that time (a standard that the current lawsuit has surpassed), it wasn't the only lawsuit that landed the company in trouble. In fact, they had to dish out more than $300 million in just three cases in St. Louis.
But while these victories have helped spread awareness of ovarian cancer in women who still use baby powder for intimate hygiene maintenance, the sad truth is that out of the 1200 lawsuits against the company, only a handful have succeeded in court trials.
Ovarian Cancer and the Dangerous Game of Withholding Information
Ovarian cancer may not have as much limelight as breast cancer, but there is a reason why this cancer is also called a "silent killer".
Maybe that's why many people feel that Johnson & Johnson have done the public a big disservice by not mentioning the dangers of using this powder in the nether regions when they knew that a large percentage of women buy their products for personal use rather than for dusting their babies.
But are their baby powders truly capable of causing cancer?
Talc, No Talc, and the Controversy
The American Cancer Society knows the dangers of using talc with asbestos in it because it is known to cause lung cancer.
Maybe that's why they pushed the FDA to ban all talcum powders with asbestos in it decades ago.
Nevertheless, the truth remains that many companies do fail to adhere to the strict standards that are meant to prevent public health issues.
But is Johnson & Johnson among them?
While we do not know the answer to that question, we do know that Johnson & Johnson have reduced the use of talc in their baby powders and have switched to cornstarch for some time now, and that animal studies done on the cancer-producing effects of baby powder have sometimes produced tumors, and sometimes have not.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that the baby powder that was alleged to cause ovarian cancer in this case definitely had talc in it, and that Johnson & Johnson are still prepared to appeal the verdict in a higher court.
So until we know more, we strongly recommend you stop using baby powder (or other talcum powder-based products) for maintaining your intimate hygiene, and instead switch to vaginal douches that have no ill-effects on your ovaries.
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