Should women still use baby powder after Johnson & Johnson lawsuit?

Last week, a jury in Missouri awarded 22 women $4.7 billion in a case that linked Johnson & Johnson baby powder to asbestos and ovarian cancer. 

The company announced it would appeal and issued this statement:

“Johnson & Johnson remains confident that its products do not contain asbestos and do not cause ovarian cancer and intends to pursue all available appellate remedies,” spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said.

Ingredients in baby powder have been linked legally to ovarian cancer. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

What does this mean to women who use baby powder as a moisture absorber in delicate areas?

Dr. Angela Kueck, gynecologic oncologist with St. David’s North Austin Medical Center and Texas Oncology, says she definitely has patients asking her about the case and other cases and baby powder, and she has patients with ovarian cancer who believe the baby powder they used might be the cause, but she cautions them, “In reality, it’s hard to link each individual case,” she says.

The problem with baby powder seemed to be the talc that was in it through the 1970s. (Talc is still found in makeup and other products.) The talc or talcum powder would be sucked up and doctors would find talc crystals inside women.

Dr. Angela Kueck is a gynecologic oncologist with St. David’s North Austin Medical Center and Texas Oncology.

The research isn’t there to indicate how much baby powder over how many years would cause cancer, she says. “The data,” she says, “is not really strong.”

Even though there still are questions about the link to baby powder and ovarian cancer and even though talc is no longer in most baby powders, should you still use it?

Kueck says you can use baby powder, but look for powders that are pure corn starch, or have baking powder or baking soda or are specifically made for that area. Anti-fungal powders can work, too. Avoid using anything with fragrance because that can irritate the area.

Also, don’t use home remedies, Vasoline or deodorant. “In reality, if it’s not for that area, it doesn’t go down there,” she says. Anything you put there can ascend inside you, she says.

The purpose of the powders is to avoid excess moisture because that can lead to yeast infections on the skin, which can be painful. Moisture in that area especially in the summer can be an issue.

If you are finding that you’re needing to use a powder every day for more than two weeks, you should be having a conversation with your doctor about why that is, she says. There could be something happening medically that needs to be addressed in a different way.

 

 

 

 


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