Go to any baby shower in the United States and you’ll inevitably see the iconic white plastic bottles with the easily recognized Johnson’s Baby Powder label on it. It’s a right of passage for every mother to liberally douse the powdery cloud onto her darling’s tiny pair of buns and breathe in the scent of cleanliness and babyhood. It has also been part of the daily routine for millions of women to stay fresh throughout the day. But what is baby powder really made of and is it as safe as it seems? According to a recent report by Reuters, Johnson & Johnson has been hiding secrets for decades.

Asbestos in Baby Powder: Johnson & Johnson’s Deception Put Consumers at Risk
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Asbestos and Baby Powder

Just about everyone has heard of asbestos and mesothelioma, a cancer that occurs when a person breathes in asbestos and the cancer forms on the protective covering on the lungs, abdomen, and heart. Asbestos was used for about 100 years in building products and then demand declined in the late 1970’s when people realized the link between asbestos, lung disease, and death.

So what does this have to do with Johnson’s Baby Powder? Baby powder is traditionally made from talc and talc and asbestos naturally occur together in mines. In fact, veins of asbestos can be found in talc deposits. Johnson & Johnson has known this for decades and yet has failed to admit or even warn patients of the potential for cancers including mesothelioma and ovarian cancer associated with their talcum products. Here is the latest timeline of deception based on Reuter’s recent findings based on documentation over the past 50 years:

  • 1957, 1958 – A consulting lab for Johnson & Johnson (J&J) finds tremolite – one of the six minerals classified as asbestos – in a sample of Italian mined J&J talc
  • 1967 – J&J found traces of tremolite in their Vermont talc mine
  • 1971 – One study found that talc particles were present in approximately 75% of the tumors they surveyed. In another study involving eight countries with 19 different researchers, the group determined that women who apply talc products to the genital area have a 30-60% greater risk of developing ovarian cancer.
  • 1973 – J&J research director DeWitt Petterson states, “no final product will ever be made which will be totally free from respirable particles.”
  • 1976 – FDA limits the amount of talc allowed in cosmetics (baby powder is classified as a cosmetic, not a drug). J&J fails to report that at least three tests by three different labs from 1972 to 1975 found traces of asbestos in talc samples.
  • 1980 – J&J offers a cornstarch alternative to talc due to rising concerns
  • 1992 – J&J sold their Hammondsville mine which was a primary source of talc from 1966 – 1990. The new owners report that there was “past tremolite” in it.
  • 1999 – The first case goes to court linking talc to mesothelioma. The lawsuit was dropped because J&J refused to hand over talc test results
  • 2009 – The FDA tests 34 samples of talc and finds no evidence of asbestos
  • 2018 – Three cases found in favor of the plaintiffs who claimed that talc caused their cancer diagnoses. Three other cases found in favor of J&J.

For decades Johnson & Johnson has denied that their talcum powder has any trace of asbestos in it, and yet their own records are evidence against their claims. Not only have they failed to acknowledge that their products contained asbestos, but they have refused to put a warning on their label to notify their customers of the risk of mesothelioma and ovarian cancer.

If you were diagnosed with ovarian cancer after 2006 and

  • applied J&J’s baby powder to your genitals once a week for four years or once a day for two years or more,
  • had major surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy after 2006,
  • had a loved one who died after 2006 due to ovarian cancer,

you may be able to make a claim against Johnson & Johnson. They failed to warn about the dangers of their product, and consumers have needlessly suffered.

“Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder.” Reuters. Accessed December 19, 2018. https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/johnsonandjohnson-cancer/
“Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer”. Step to Health. Accessed December 19, 2018. https://steptohealth.com/talcum-powder-ovarian-cancer/