A Virginia woman just won a record-setting $110.5 million in a lawsuit that alleges that using Johnson & Johnson's baby powder caused her ovarian cancer.
62-year-old Louis Slemp of Wise, Virginia is the latest in a line of plaintiffs with similar claims, including three previous St. Louis juries who awarded a total of $197 million, including a decision in October that awarded a California woman $70 million.
Slemp was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, which spread to her liver. As a 40-year user of J&J's talcum-containing products, such as baby powder, she blames her cancer on the extended talcum use.
Talc is a naturally occurring mineral, and is made up primarily of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. It's widely used in cosmetics and personal care products to absorb moisture, cut down on friction, prevent caking and improve the product's feel. In its natural form, talc can contain asbestos, which is known to cause cancers in and around the lungs when inhaled. But all talcum products sold in the U.S. have not contained asbestos since the 1970s.
Johnson & Johnson said in a statement that it would appeal and disputed the scientific evidence behind the plaintiffs' allegations.
The evidence concerning asbestos-free talcum products and cancer risk is unclear, but some studies report a slightly increased risk in women who use talcum powder in the genital area.