Lois Slemp, a 62-year-old from Virginia, had used Johnson & Johnson baby powder on her body for 40 years, never realizing its potential to cause cancer.
Now, having ovarian cancer since 2012 which still continues to spread, she blames her frequent use of the product for her cancer development. She took her battle to court in St. Louis and received a promising outcome. The judge granted Slemp with a record-setting $110.5 million.
“I trusted Johnson & Johnson. Big mistake,” Slemp told the audience via video message because she was too ill to attend the trial.
Slemp was “thrilled” when she heard the verdict, according to her attorney, Jim Onder. She hoped the outcome would “send a message.”
Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder contains talc, an ingredient claimed to be linked to ovarian cancer. Around 2,000 lawsuits are in courts across the country due to health problems caused by the controversial substance.
However, Johnson & Johnson said in a statement that it would dispute scientific evidence behind the plaintiffs’ allegations.
“We are preparing for additional trials this year and we will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder,”
The company has already paid out $197 million over the last few years for claims similar to Slemp’s.
Talc is a soft white mineral mined from deposits around the world. It gets crushed into a fine powder known for its absorptive ability. Since the late 1800’s, it’s been used in a wide variety of cosmetic products. However, it’s mainly used in paint and plastic.
Many major health groups and experts have declared talc as being a harmless substance and deny its cancer-causing abilities, giving companies a reason not to put warning labels on their products containing the mineral.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer claims the use of talc-based body powder is considered “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” although further studies are still needed on this controversial issue.
“It is not clear if consumer products containing talcum powder increase cancer risk,” according to the American Cancer Society. “Studies of personal use of talcum powder have had mixed results, although there is some suggestion of a possible increase in ovarian cancer risk. There is very little evidence at this time that any other forms of cancer are linked with consumer use of talcum powder.”
The American Cancer Society suggests for people to avoid the product if they feel concerned by its potential risks.
“Until more information is available, people concerned about using talcum powder may want to avoid or limit their use of consumer products that contain it,” the health organization said.