In a series of recent legal victories, women have won significant recoveries against talc manufacturers for mesothelioma they alleged was caused by long-term usage of talcum bath products, including those manufactured by Johnson & Johnson. As mesothelioma has long been linked to asbestos exposure, these results substantiate accusations against J&J that it misled consumers for decades by stating its talc products were asbestos-free.
Asbestos is a known carcinogen that can cause mesothelioma when its airborne fibers are inhaled. Asbestos’ presence in talc products is especially dangerous, because talcum powder is so light that it is common to breathe in the particles. Once asbestos fibers make their way into the body, they lodge in tissue — most often that surrounding the lungs in the chest cavity — causing damage that progress to cancer.
According to Law360 (subscription), in a suit settled in May of 2019, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $300 million in punitive damages after a New York state jury found the company responsible for a woman’s mesothelioma that she developed after using J&J baby powder and scented Shower to Shower products from 1953 through 2015.
Prior to this string of suits, most talc cases have been brought by women who claim they developed ovarian cancer from the physical application of the talc itself in talc products by Johnson & Johnson and other manufacturers. Learn more about the connections that have been found between cancer and talc.