Talcum powder may contain asbestos, a mineral that causes the deadly cancer mesothelioma. Major talcum powder companies deny the presence of asbestos in their talc, even as mesothelioma victims file lawsuits against them and receive millions of dollars. Get the facts about mesothelioma and talcum powder below.

Fact #1: Asbestos Has Been Found in Talcum Powder

Johnson & Johnson is one of the biggest producers of talcum powder. Asbestos (the only known cause of mesothelioma) was mentioned in company reports on its talcum powder dating back to the late 1950s.

Talcum powder is made from talc, a naturally occurring mineral found in rock deposits. Asbestos can sometimes be “found in close proximity” to talc in these deposits, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As a result, talc may become contaminated with asbestos.

Trace amounts of asbestos continue to be found in samples of J&J talcum powder even up through the present day. It’s clear that asbestos and talcum powder have always been linked.

Fact #2: Talcum Powder May Cause Mesothelioma

Talcum powder that is laced with even a single asbestos fiber can lead to mesothelioma.

Asbestos fibers might become airborne as people shake talcum powder bottles during use. The fibers could then be inhaled or swallowed.

“Using talcum powder in closed spaces may increase the likelihood of inhaling the powder laced with asbestos,” according to a 2014 study that looked at applications of talcum powder in small bathrooms.

Asbestos fibers are microscopic so nobody would know they were breathing in a potentially deadly substance.

Once inside the body, the asbestos fibers burrow into healthy tissue and irritate it for decades. This may cause mesothelioma cells and tumors to form 20-50 years after first exposure.

Regular use of talcum powder may put people at a higher risk of exposure to asbestos — and, in turn, mesothelioma — than those who used it occasionally.

Fact #3: Talcum Powder Companies Hid the Dangers

Studies and reports claim that Johnson & Johnson knew its talcum powder contained trace amounts of asbestos but concealed the facts.

Did You Know?

In a 2018 report from the investigative journalism outlet Reuters, J&J found samples of asbestos in its talc between 1957 and 2003 and did not inform the public.

The company also failed to report test results when asbestos was found, which the FDA required. Instead, they hired researchers to conduct other studies to show that its talc was free of asbestos.

In 2019, an FDA test found trace amounts of asbestos in a bottle of J&J talcum powder. The company recalled over 33,000 bottles of talcum powder in response. J&J also conducted a series of third-party tests and found no asbestos in the powder.

Fact #4: Talcum Powder Mesothelioma Lawsuits Can Award Millions

Many lawsuits have been filed by people who claim their mesothelioma and talcum powder use are linked. These lawsuits request financial compensation from J&J for causing the victims’ illnesses.

Some talc-related mesothelioma lawsuits have awarded victims with millions of dollars.

  • In 2019, the California court system awarded $29.4 million to a woman with mesothelioma along with another $5 Million to her husband.
  • In 2020, a New Jersey court awarded $750 Million to four mesothelioma victims.
  • In 2020, $9 Million was awarded to a Florida woman with mesothelioma.

Fact #5: Talcum Powder May Cause Other Cancers

Mesothelioma isn’t the only cancer linked to Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder. As of 2020, nearly 20,000 lawsuits have been filed against J&J by those who believe their cancer was caused by asbestos-laced talcum powder.

Most notably, women have claimed they developed ovarian cancer from using the powder.

In 2018, 22 women won over $4 Billion from J&J in a lawsuit. All the women developed ovarian cancer, allegedly after using J&J’s talcum powder for decades. The verdict was later reduced to around $2 Billion.

Fact #6: Johnson & Johnson Discontinued Its Talcum Powder

In May 2020, J&J announced that it would no longer make or sell talcum powder in the United States or Canada. The company had seen a dip in sales which they blamed on lawsuits that linked mesothelioma and talcum powder together.

That said, J&J continues to sell its talcum powder across the world and has not issued another recall as of July 2020.

Learn More About Mesothelioma and Talcum Powder

If you are currently using talcum powder and feel unsafe, stop using it. You can also talk to your doctor if you develop possible symptoms of mesothelioma, such as shortness of breath or a cough.

If you believe you have developed mesothelioma from talcum powder, seek medical and legal help immediately. The only way to improve your lifespan is through mesothelioma treatment. While medical care can be expensive, patients can afford it with legal assistance.

Our Patient Advocates can help you navigate life after a mesothelioma diagnosis. We can also tell you more about the links between mesothelioma and talcum powder. Contact us now to learn more.

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Laura WrightWritten by:

Lead Editor

Laura Wright is a journalist and content strategist with more than 15 years of professional experience. She attended college at the University of Florida, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2008. Her writing has been featured in The Gainesville Sun and other regional publications throughout Florida.

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  2. American Cancer Society. “Talcum powder and cancer” Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/talcum-powder-and-cancer.html . Accessed on July 3, 2020.

  3. Gordon, R., Fitzgerald, S., & Millette, J. “Asbestos in commercial cosmetic talcum powder as a cause of mesothelioma in women” Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4164883/” . Accessed on July 3, 2020.

  4. Girion, L. “Johnson and Johnson knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its baby powder” Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/johnsonandjohnson-cancer/. Accessed on July 3, 2020.

  5. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Baby powder manufacturer voluntarily recalls products for asbestos” Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/baby-powder-manufacturer-voluntarily-recalls-products-asbestos . Accessed on July 3, 2020.

  6. Lovelace, B. “Johnson & Johnson discontinues talc-based baby powder in US and Canada” Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/19/johnson-johnson-discontinues-talc-based-baby-powder-in-us-and-canada.html . Accessed on July 3, 2020.

  7. Manskar, N.“Johnson & Johnson hit with $750M verdict in baby powder lawsuit” Retrieved from https://nypost.com/2020/02/07/johnson-johnson-hit-with-750m-verdict-in-baby-powder-lawsuit/. Accessed on July 3, 2020.

  8. Christensen, J. “Johnson & Johnson hit with $29.4 million verdict in talcum powder case” Retreived from https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/14/health/johnson-and-johnson-baby-powder-cancer-verdict/index.html . Accessed on July 3, 2020.

  9. Stempel, J. “J&J loses bid to overturn baby powder verdict, but damages cut to $2.1 billion” Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/23/jj-loses-bid-to-overturn-baby-powder-verdict-but-damages-cut-to-2point1-billion.html . Accessed on July 3, 2020.

  10. Romo, V. “Johnson & Johnson stops selling talc-based baby powder in U.S. and Canada” Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2020/05/19/859182015/johnson-johnson-stops-selling-talc-based-baby-powder-in-u-s-and-canada . Accessed on July 3, 2020.

  11. Girion, L. & O’Donnell, C. “Johnson & Johnson to stop selling talc baby powder in U.S. and Canada” Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-johnson-johnson-babypowder/johnson-johnson-to-stop-selling-talc-based-baby-powder-in-u-s-and-canada-idUSKBN22V32U . Accessed on July 3, 2020.

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