How safe are the ingredients in our personal care products?


Many Americans know Johnson & Johnson as the well-known and respected brand of numerous personal care and cosmetic products. Some of the company’s most popular products include its baby care line, shampoos and talcum powders. Today, the safety of the company’s talcum power products are in question after a jury awarded $72 million to the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer which her family contends was the result of 30 years of using the product for hygienic purposes.

Johnson & Johnson has repeatedly refuted that its products are dangerous and, after the jury handed down its decision, the company was quick to issue a statement declaring that “it is important for consumers to know that the safety of cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence and independent peer-reviewed studies.”

In this case, however, members of the jury sided with the plaintiffs and “decided that the company should warn customers about the link between ovarian cancer and using talc-based body powder for feminine hygiene.” The ruling in this case is likely to be a factor in the roughly 1,200 pending lawsuits that have been filed against the company during the last two years which claim that use of the company’s talcum powder directly contributed to the development of ovarian cancer.

In addition to talcum powder, which is readily used by parents to ward off babies’ diaper rashes and by women for hygienic purposes, talc is a mineral that is used in a variety of other cosmetic products. While food products that are manufactured and sold in the U.S. must be tested and deemed safe by regulators at the Food and Drug Administration, the same isn’t true of personal care products and cosmetics. In fact, the only regulatory requirements by which companies who make and sell these types of products must abide relate to proper labeling.

As this most-recent Johnson & Johnson talcum powder lawsuit indicates, there’s growing concern among U.S. consumers about the possible health and safety risks posed by ingredients that are used in many everyday products. Individuals who have concerns about the safety of such products and/or who believe that they’ve suffered adversely as a result of their use would be wise to discuss their situation with an attorney.

Source: The Kansas City Star, “Johnson & Johnson talcum powder lawsuit alerts women who didn’t know of possible cancer connection,” Lisa Gutierrez, Feb. 25, 2016

CNN.com, “What you need to know about talc safety,” AJ Willingham, Feb. 25, 2016

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