Asbestos Exposure and Ovarian Cancer
Despite its ban in over 55 countries, asbestos is still legal to use in the United States. For several years, asbestos exposure has been proven to cause cancer. More recently there have been studies that asbestos exposure causes ovarian cancer.
What is Ovarian Cancer?
Ovarian cancer is one of the top five cancer-related death among women over 35. This cancer develops in a single or both ovaries. While there are many different types of ovarian cancer, epithelial ovarian carcinoma (EOC) on the outer ovary surface is the most common form. EOC accounts for 85 to 90 percent of cases.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer are generally not evident until it has grown and spread through a large portion of the pelvis and abdomen. Women have a 1 in 75 chance of developing the illness during their lifetime. The five-year survival rate is 47.6 percent. Once cancer has already spread throughout the body, the disease is usually fatal.
Early Links Between Asbestos and Ovarian Cancer
As early as 1979, research studies suggested that experimental and clinical data link asbestos and talc with ovarian cancer. In 2009, the (IARC) International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that asbestos was a group 1 ovarian carcinogen.
In 2014, a research group investigated the link between cosmetic talcum powder and mesothelioma in women. Within that study, researchers stated, “a review of the world’s largest talc producers’ records indicated that talc mines contained asbestos, asbestos cannot be removed from talc, and that talc used in cosmetics was not asbestos-free.”
Regulation of Asbestos Exposure in Cosmetic Products
The FDA released a report in March 2019 citing its concern over asbestos-contamination in talc-based cosmetic products after testing confirmed the presence of asbestos in product samples from Claire’s and Justice’s cosmetics. Current laws do not require cosmetics to be reviewed and approved by the FDA before sale to U.S. consumers. However, the FDA announced that it would be requesting information from cosmetic manufacturers about their safety procedures and how they ensure that the talc they use is free from asbestos.
While the FDA says that it “considers it unacceptable for cosmetic talc to be contaminated with asbestos,” there are no U.S. laws or regulations that strictly prohibit talc used in consumer products from containing asbestos. The federal Food, Drug Cosmetic Act of 1938 does not require the FDA to review cosmetic products and their ingredients, except for color additives.
The Danger of Asbestos-Contaminated Talc Products
Talcum powder contaminated with asbestos in consumer products such as baby powder and makeup may increase the risk of mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. Asbestos-contaminated talcum powder inhaled, ingested, or absorbed into the skin is a cancer risk. Tainted talc powder travels to tissues in the chest, abdomen, or ovaries. Harmful talc particles remain embedded in bodily tissues indefinitely, causing disease and cancer, as the body can’t eliminate the particles.
In February 2020, the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine published conclusive evidence of cases of severe ovarian cancer among users of Johnson & Johnson cosmetic talc products. Johnson & Johnson settled more than 1,000 asbestos claims involving talc baby powder. The total settlement amount was likely around $100 million. In 2021, Johnson & Johnson reportedly set aside nearly $4 billion for asbestos lawsuit settlements.
If you’ve been diagnosed with ovarian cancer due to exposure to asbestos-contaminated products, you could be eligible for compensation. Receive the settlement you are entitled to by speaking with a GPW Law attorney today.