Cosmetics warning after €354m payout to woman who said 'talc caused cancer'
Consumers should always take care when applying cosmetic products, including talcum powder, to any area of the skin, the Irish medicines' watchdog said yesterday.
The Health Products Regulatory Agency (HPRA) was responding after a US jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417m (€354m) to a woman who claimed she developed ovarian cancer after using the company's talc-based products such as Johnson's Baby Powder for feminine hygiene.
The California lawsuit was brought by Eva Echeverria, a 63-year-old woman who said she started using baby powder when she was 11 years old. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 10 years ago; the diagnosis is terminal, according to lawyers working on the case.
Some studies have found that women who regularly use talc on their genital area face up to a 40pc higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Other research has shown either no link or a weak link. Most major health groups have declared talc harmless.
The HPRA in Ireland said the safety of all cosmetic products was tested, but it strongly advised anyone who experienced any undesirable effects relating to a cosmetic product to stop using the product immediately.
"These effects will normally disappear, but if they persist, or you are concerned, you should report these to your doctor.
"You should also report the effects to the cosmetic company (whose contact details are on the product packaging) and to the HPRA."
A spokeswoman for Johnson & Johnson in Ireland said yesterday: "Ovarian cancer is a devastating diagnosis and we deeply sympathise with the women and families impacted."
She said the company intended to appeal the court verdict "because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson's Baby Powder".
In April, the National Cancer Institute's Physician Data Query Editorial Board wrote: "The weight of evidence does not support an association between perineal talc exposure and an increased risk of ovarian cancer."