As Johnson & Johnson continues to deny any wrongdoing in cases claiming talc powder’s link to ovarian cancer, a new study puts another nail in its coffin.
To say that the corporation vouches for the safety of talc, at least publicly, is a bit of an understatement. In a statement released by J&J, the company goes on the record as claiming that “with over 100 years of use, few ingredients have the same demonstrated performance, mildness, and safety profile as cosmetic talc.”
Interestingly, talc was removed as an ingredient in J&J’s line of baby powders in the 1970s and replaced with corn starch. And, in 1997, an internal Johnson & Johnson memo goes beyond suggesting a link between talc and ovarian cancer and seems to suggest that denying such a link is to refuse to live in reality. An external medical consultant to the corporation warned that trying to deny the link would be “denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.”
A recently released study appears to back up this claim. Researchers asked 2041 women who currently suffer from ovarian cancer and 2100 women not currently suffering from ovarian cancer about their use of talc powder as a feminine hygiene agent. Those that routinely used talc powder on or around their genitals were 33 percent more likely to suffer from ovarian cancer.
The lead author of the study has tried to have warning labels placed on talc powder products in the past, and subsequently failed. He says that women may actually be unaware of the possibility of talc getting into their genital tracts with repeated use and if they were aware of that possibility, then maybe fewer women would use it.
That is precisely what Johnson & Johnson does not want to happen. The company has millions of dollars at stake from the sale of talc-based products and is going to great lengths to assure the public of the safety of those products.
Still, data does not lie. And, as more attention is focused on powders and the ingredients contained within those powders, researchers may continue to find evidence that further cements a link between talc and ovarian cancer. Tens of millions of dollars are on the line; as are the lives of thousands of women. The question is which of these does Johnson & Johnson value more?