Canada warns talcum powder poses a risk of ovarian cancer after $4.69 billion product defect case

ShutterstockTalcum powder, also known as baby powder.
  • The Canadian environment ministry says that talcum power can cause ovarian cancer if used on genitals.
  • If inhaled it can also cause respiratory problems like fibrosis, a draft assessment released on Wednesday says.
  • The reports comes after a string of lawsuits brought against Johnson & Johnson in the US relating to ovarian cancer since 2016.
  • 22 women were awarded $US4.69 billion from the brand in July, as the court found asbestos infected talcum powder caused their ovarian cancer.

Environment and Climate Change Canada warned that talcum powder can cause ovarian cancer – four months after 22 women won $US4.7 billion from a talc manufacturer in court.

A report by the government agency on Wednesday set out the concerns, including that some recent studies “have consistently reported a positive association with ovarian cancer and perineal [genital area] talc exposure.”

It cited 29 studies on the connection between ovarian cancer and baby powder, and said 21 of those found a “possible,” or “positive” relationship between the talc and the cancer.

The draft paper, which looked at baby, body, face and foot talc powders, also said that inhaling talcum powder can be dangerous and should be avoided as it can cause respiratory problems like fibrosis or scarring of the lungs.

Talcum powder is made from talc, a naturally occurring mineral crystal, and is commonly known as baby powder.

Read more:
Here’s what you need to know about baby powder and cancer risk

Baby powder manufacturer Johnson & Johnson has faced several lawsuits over its talcum products, and has suffered financially.

In August 2017, a Los Angeles court ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $US417 million to one women who said their talc caused ovarian cancer, and a St Louis court awarded 22 women $US4.69 billion in damages from Johnson & Johnson in July, 2018 – the sixth-largest product-defect award in US history.

That decision is under appeal.

Companies in Canada don’t have to label their talc products with the cancer or respiratory risk yet, CTV said.

The Canadian Cancer Society has said talc causes a “possible risk” to developing ovarian cancer.

Since 1999, the American Cancer Society has recommended that women who regularly use baby powder in their genital area choose cornstarch-based baby powder instead of talc.

The report on Wednesday day did not say there was a definite cause and effect relationship between talc and ovarian cancer, but it did warn that talc may cause the cancer.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.