Talcum Powder: Connection to Cancer, Recalls, and Settlements

In recent times, people claiming that talcum powder harmed them filed lawsuits against its producers. These lawsuits are usually filed as class acts or as individual lawsuits.

This article outlines the history of the talcum powder’s link to cancer, recalls of the product, and settlements made. To learn more, contact our professional mass tort attorneys at Rueb Stoller Daniel today.

A History of Discovery and Recalls

There have been several events over a long period that have linked ovarian cancer to baby powder use. As far back as 1975, Johnson & Johnson referred to the link between talc on genitals and ovarian cancer as the “talc ovary problem” in an internal memo. This memo was released in 2017 during an ovarian cancer trial.

In 1982, a case-control study in the cancer journal found that women who used talcum powder as a dusting powder on their genitals or sanitary napkins stood a higher risk of ovarian cancer than others who did not.

In 2011, Dr. Daniel W. Cramer and colleagues found that long-term talcum powder use significantly increases ovarian cancer risk. Also, in 2014, a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute linked talc use to ovarian cancer.

It took until 2018 before the FDA started testing cosmetic talc products for traces of asbestos. By July 2019, the US Justice Department began a criminal investigation into whether J&J lied about the risk of its product causing cancer.


Although manufacturers of talcum powder claim that their products do not contain asbestos, we have seen some of them pull their products off the shelves. In October 2019, Johnson & Johnson recalled 33,000 bottles of talcum powder. They also announced that they would discontinue selling the product in the US and Canada in May 2020.

They claimed they removed it because there was false advertising about the powder causing cancer. The powder remains on the shelves in the UK and other parts of the world, though.

Talcum Powder Settlements

Since scientists established that talc powder causes ovarian cancer, people have filed over 20,000 lawsuits against companies like J&J. Below is a timeline of settlements for such lawsuits.


In February, a jury determined that Johnson & Johnson talcum powder was responsible for Jacqueline Fox’s death. She has used talcum powder for over three decades. The jury awarded her $72 million, $62 million of which was for punitive damages.

In May, Gloria Ristesund, who had used Johnson & Johnson baby powder for decades, was treated for ovarian cancer. The jury awarded her $55 million.

In November, Deborah Giannecchini, who had also used talcum powder for more than 40 years, underwent radiation and chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. A Californian jury gave a verdict of $70 million for her case, $65 million of which was for punitive damages.


In May,  Louis Slemp, who was undergoing treatment for aggressive ovarian cancer, was awarded $110 million by a St. Louis jury. She had also used baby powder for more than 40 years.

In August, Eva Echeverria was dying from stage 4 ovarian cancer after using baby powder daily for more than 60 years. She received a $417 million jury verdict, $340 million was in punitive damages.


Some men have also gotten settlements for cases related to the use of talcum powder. In April 2018, Stephen Lanzo, who claimed that he contracted mesothelioma through Johnson & Johnson baby powder usage, was awarded $37 million in compensatory damages and $80 million in punitive damages.

In July 2018, 22 women who had filed a class-action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson were awarded $4.6 billion for causing them all to suffer ovarian cancer due to their baby powder usage.


In March, a jury awarded Teresa Leavitt a settlement of $30 million after they found that her Johnson & Johnson talcum powder caused her mesothelioma. Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $100 million as settlements to plaintiffs who alleged that the asbestos in their baby powder caused cancer to resolve more than a thousand lawsuits.


In June 2020, the US Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from Johnson & Johnson over a pay-out to women who alleged that its baby powder caused them to develop ovarian cancer. This upholds the Missouri Court of Appeal’s decision which reduced the Settlement from the $4.7 billion originally decided by a jury but insisted that the company makes the pay-out. As such, J&J would have to pay $2.1 billion to these plaintiffs.

Contact a Lawyer Today

If you suspect that you have developed ovarian cancer or mesothelioma from constant baby powder usage, you should speak to a lawyer at Rueb Stoller Daniel today. Our professional mass tort attorneys offer free consultation and free case reviews. Contact us today to get started.