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Baby powder: to use it or not is an ongoing debate for U.S. women

Johnson & Johnson's baby powder has been popular in Louisiana and across the U.S. for a number of years, but female users may be especially interested in recent civil litigation surrounding the product. Some claim a possible link exists between ovarian cancer and the talc that is a primary ingredient of baby powder.

In September of last year, The New York Times reported Johnson & Johnson had suffered "a painful blow in the talc litigation" a month earlier. In August, 2017, a Los Angeles jury found enough evidence to support a belief that the company had exhibited harmful behavior. In the end, the plaintiff received a $417 million judgment in her favor. The case is currently undergoing an appeals process, so no payouts have yet been issued. 

Arguments against the use of talc have been ongoing for a number of years. The primary concern for women is the aforementioned perceived link between the mineral and cancer of the ovaries, but decisive evidence has not yet revealed itself.

The American Cancer Society suggests talc with asbestos does contribute to cancer when individuals inhale it; however, manufacturers of U.S. household goods began removing the asbestos from their products as early as the 1970s. Thus, Johnson & Johnson would use asbestos-free talcum powder in their current production process.

The American Cancer Society cites other experts in addressing concerns over the use of talc-based powder by American women. Conclusions the experts have reached include the following:

  • Asbestos-free talc that users inhale does not cause cancer.
  • Talc-based powder for perineal use possibly causes cancer.
  • Asbestos-laden talc ties directly to cancer.

The American Cancer Society suggests those concerned about personal use of talc-based body powder "may want to avoid or limit their use of consumer products that contain it." 

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