How Long Has The Link Between Talcum Powder And Ovarian Cancer And Mesothelioma Been Known?
- Casey Hamm
- September 3, 2019
Scientists began connecting talc with diagnoses of mesothelioma and ovarian cancer and making their findings public in the 1970s and 1980s, respectively.
FDA Called Attention to Asbestos-Contaminated Talc in 1973
The link between talcum powder, ovarian cancer, and mesothelioma has been known for years. Although talc has appeared in consumer products since the 1800s, it was not until the 1970s that the safety of this extremely popular mineral was truly called into question.
Asbestos was linked to mesothelioma and cancer in the mid-20th century, when increasing numbers of men who worked in asbestos mines or jobs that exposed them to asbestos, like construction, manufacturing, and shipyards began to develop the illness.
Accordingly, the government could not look the other way when it later discovered that talc was frequently found to be contaminated by asbestos, a mineral that often occurs in rock deposits adjacent to talc deposits. As such, in 1973, the government put forth legislation requiring that all talcum powders be asbestos-free.
The discovery of asbestos in talc shed important light on the mystery of how women were developing mesothelioma when they did not typically work in the same environments as men: The answer was talcum powder, a popular ingredient in cosmetics and hygiene products.
This revelation also meant that men who worked in the mining, manufacturing, and production of/and with talc were also being exposed to heavy amounts of talc, and suffering from mesothelioma many years later as a result of breathing the mineral in.
Cosmetics and Personal Care Industry Follows Suit in 1976
On the heels of this growing awareness surrounding the dangers of talc, in 1976, the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association—the organization for the cosmetics and personal care products industry—urged its members and the industry at large to commence manufacturing their products using only asbestos-free talc.
They packaged this request with voluntary guidelines for how to make this transition in their processes. Unfortunately, the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938 did not require companies to share information about product safety, leaving the whole matter to rest on the honor system. As a result, consumers of cosmetic, personal care, and other talc-based products were never informed of the unwitting incorporation of asbestos into their daily routines.
1980s Studies Confirm Links Between Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer
A 1982 Harvard study in the journal Cancer assessed 215 women diagnosed with epithelial ovarian cancer. Each study participant was asked about her regular use of talcum powder. Results of the study indicated that 92% of the women had regularly used talcum powder either to dust their genital area or by virtue of its presence on sanitary napkins.
Dr. Daniel Cramer, the epidemiologist who led this study, wrote in his conclusions that the findings supported a link between talc and ovarian cancer for two reasons:
- The “similarity of ovarian cancer to mesotheliomas”
- The “chemical relation of talc to asbestos, a known cause of mesotheliomas”
Further Research in the 2000s Supports Earlier Studies
In 2000, Dr. Cramer analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study in a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, one of the largest investigations into risk factors for women’s chronic diseases. He noted a 40 percent increased risk for a specific type of ovarian cancer.
Again, in 2015, Dr. Cramer explored this relationship by leading a case-control study on the relationship between talc and ovarian cancer. The study was published in the journal Epidemiology and found a 33 percent uptick in ovarian cancer risk in women who applied talcum powder to the genital area.
An epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, Katie Terry, conducted another study of talc use and ovarian cancer risk in 2013 published in Cancer Prevention Research. She gathered data from a collection of eight separate case-control studies. Her review revealed a 24 percent increased risk for epithelial ovarian cancer in subjects who regularly used talcum powders on their genital areas.
Zanes Law Can Fight for Recoverable Damages in Your Talc-Related Lawsuit
If you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer or mesothelioma after regular use of or exposure to talcum powder, Zanes Law will do everything from A to Z to see that you recover damages related to your illness. The link between talcum powder, ovarian cancer, and mesothelioma has been known for many years. If you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos and developed mesothelioma, call (866) 499-8989 for a free case review and consultation so we can begin fighting for the justice you deserve.
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