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Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $55 million in talcum powder cancer case

By Allen Cone
John & Johnson is appealing a $55 million jury verdict in favor of a woman who claimed she got ovarian cancer from using its baby powder. Photo by Raihana Asral /Shutterstock
John & Johnson is appealing a $55 million jury verdict in favor of a woman who claimed she got ovarian cancer from using its baby powder. Photo by Raihana Asral /Shutterstock

ST. LOUIS, May 3 (UPI) -- Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $55 million to a South Dakota woman who claimed she got ovarian cancer after using baby powder -- the second such verdict in less than three months.

Gloria Ristesund, 62, said she used the talcum powder for decades and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011.

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The company knew about the possible health risks linked to the product and failed to warn consumers, her lawyers argued.

"Internal documents from J & J show it knew of studies connecting talc use and ovarian cancer but, to this day, it continues to market it as safe -- neglecting any warning," the Onder law firm, which represented Ristesund, said in a statement.

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Johnson & Johnson plans to appeal the verdict.

"Unfortunately, the jury's decision goes against 30 years of studies by medical experts around the world that continue to support the safety of cosmetic talc," Carol Goodrich, a company spokeswoman, said. "We understand that women and families affected by ovarian cancer are searching for answers, and we deeply sympathize with all who have been affected by this devastating disease with no known cause. Johnson & Johnson has always taken questions about the safety of our products extremely seriously."

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In February, another jury ordered the company to pay $72 million to the family of Jackie Fox, who died of ovarian cancer in 2015.

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The American Cancer Society reports that evidence of talcum powder's link to cancer is inconclusive.

"Findings have been mixed, with some studies reporting a slightly increased risk and some reporting no increase," according to the organization's website. "Many case-control studies have found a small increase in risk. But these types of studies can be biased because they often rely on a person's memory of talc use many years earlier."

Talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral mainly containing magnesium, silicon and oxygen. As a powder, it absorbs moisture well and helps cut down on friction.

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