What is Baby Powder?

Baby powder is now a generic term used for talcum powder. The basis of talcum powder is talc, a mineral mostly made up of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. In powder form, talc is absorbent and helps cut down on friction. Although the use of talc dates back as far as ancient Egypt, the modern iteration of the now common household product dates back to the late 19th century.

Frederick Barnett Kilmer, the director of scientific affairs at Johnson & Johnson, suggested sending customers a container of Italian talc to soothe their skin when irritated by another product. Customers were so pleased with the talc that the company began selling it. The first tins of Johnson’s Baby Powder were sold in 1893.

For more than a century, women sprinkled the powder on their undergarments and genitals to reduce friction and absorb moisture. In fact, products like Shower to Shower were directly marketed for use on and around the genitals to help with discomfort for years. However, mounting evidence suggests that talcum-based products like Baby Powder contain asbestos and are not as safe as they were originally thought to be.

Talcum Powder Linked to Ovarian Cancer

Cancer Risks of Talcum Powder

  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Uterine Cancer
  • Mesothelioma

Who is at Risk?

Females with long-term exposure and use of talc baby powder products are at risk of ovarian cancer, especially if the product was applied to the genital area.

Talcum Powder Lawsuit Products

  • Johnson’s Baby Powder by Johnson & Johnson
  • Shower to Shower by Valeant Pharmaceuticals
  • Baby Powder by Baby Magic

Talcum Powder Lawsuit

For decades, women have used talcum powder for hygienic use and for the absorption of moisture. Products like Shower to Shower are directly marketed for use in sensitive areas to help with discomfort.

However, several published medical studies indicate there may be a direct link between the use of talcum-based powder for hygienic use and the development of ovarian cancer, with the increased risk possibly as high as 35%.

Broughton Partners will be monitoring a network of websites and targeted online advertising for the following criteria for eligible talcum powder leads:

  • Plaintiff has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer
  • Plaintiff has used talcum powder regularly as a feminine hygiene product for 4 years or more
  • Plaintiff has used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder or Shower to Shower products
  • Plaintiff has access to medical evidence and biopsy results to show talcum powder
  • Plaintiff has no history of a genetic disorder that pre-disposes her to ovarian cancer

On April 27, 2019, it was ruled that thousands of plaintiffs claiming Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products caused cancer may proceed with their lawsuits. U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson is scheduled to hear most of the talcum powder lawsuits filed nationwide. The New Jersey magistrate has ruled that lawyers for the plaintiffs can bring in experts who will testify that epidemiological research shows talcum powder can cause cancer. J&J fought to bar all experts’ testimony which would have ended every case, however, Wolfson’s orders have prevented this from happening.

Johnson & Johnson now faces an estimated 20,000 lawsuits over its talcum powder products and continues to lose major cases. The company insists that its talcum powder products do not cause cancer, however, many court juries have disagreed with Johnson & Johnson. The largest talcum powder lawsuit settlement so far was a $4.7 billion dollar verdict for 22 women and their families in 2018. Four years later in October 2020, the company announced it will pay over $100 million to settle over 1,000 cases related to cancer-causing agents in their baby powder products.


A study by the British Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology study found talcum particles in 75% of ovarian tumors.


A study found that women who applied talcum powder directly to their bodies on a daily basis had a significantly higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.


Talc is listed as a potential carcinogen in California.

Late 2013

The first talcum powder lawsuit was won in South Dakota when Deane Berg filed a claim against Johnson & Johnson after she developed ovarian cancer from the company’s baby powder products.


Talcum Powder lawsuits were consolidated in New Jersey for multidistrict litigation.

September 2014

Talc is reported as a risk factor for ovarian cancer by the National Cancer Institute.

May 2018

A California jury asked the court to require Johnson and Johnson to have a cancer warning label on their baby powder products.

December 2018

Reuters and The New York Times publish investigation reports that found Johnson & Johnson knew about the dangers of its talcum powder products for decades but chose not to warn the public.

July 2019

Pretrial proceedings in federal multidistrict litigation for nearly 11,000 talcum powder cases against Johnson & Johnson began.

October 2019

J&J voluntarily recalled a batch (Lot #22318RB) of baby powder after U.S. health regulators found traces of cancer-causing chrysotile asbestos in the product. J&J announced the recall “out of an abundance of caution,” and noted that they are working with the FDA to investigate and test the safety of their baby powder products.

February 2020

New Jersey state jury ordered J&J to pay $750 million in punitive damages to four plaintiffs who claimed the company’s baby powder products was the reason they developed cancer.

April 2020

Judge Wolfson, who is presiding over J&J talcum powder lawsuits in New Jersey, ruled that plaintiffs can proceed with their claims, however, there will be limits on expert testimony.

May 2020

J&J announced that North American sales of the company’s talc baby powder are being discontinued after facing thousands of lawsuits claiming the baby powder caused some individuals to develop cancer.

October 2020

Over $100 million will be paid by J&J to settle over 1,000 baby powder lawsuits.


Seth Rakoff-Nahoum. “Why Cancer and Inflammation?”, Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. Accessed May 31, 2019.

Joshua E. Muscat, PhD, and Michael S. Huncharek, MD. “Perineal Talc Use and Ovarian Cancer: A Critical Review”, US National Library of Medicine
National Institutes of Health. Accessed May 31, 2019.

IARC. “IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans”, World Health Organization Internation Agency For Research on Cancer. Accessed May 31, 2019.

Liz Szabo. “Studies mixed on link between talcum powder, ovarian cancer”, USA Today. Accessed May 31, 2019.

Huncharek M, Geschwind JF, Kupelnick B. “Perineal application of cosmetic talc and risk of invasive epithelial ovarian cancer: a meta-analysis of 11,933 subjects from sixteen observational studies”, US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Accessed May 31, 2019.

Stalo Karageorgi, Margaret A. Gates, Susan E. Hankinson and Immaculata De Vivo. “Perineal Use of Talcum Powder and Endometrial Cancer Risk”, American Association for Cancer Research. Accessed Mar 6, 2018.

Terry et al. “Genital Powder Use and Risk of Ovarian Cancer: A Pooled Analysis of 8,525 Cases and 9,859 Controls”, American Association for Cancer Research. Accessed Mar 6, 2018.

Alison Kodjak. “Does Baby Powder Cause Cancer? A Jury Says Yes. Scientists Aren’t So Sure“, NPR. Accessed Mar 6, 2018.

The American Cancer Society. “Talcum Powder And Cancer”, The American Cancer Society. Accessed Mar 6, 2018.