Johnson & Johnson ceasing sales of ’cancer risk’ baby powder is still just the tip of the iceberg

Johnson & Johnson ceasing sales of ’cancer risk’ baby powder is still just the tip of the iceberg

Johnson & Johnson will stop selling its iconic talc-based baby powder on a worldwide basis in 2023, having ended sales in the USA and Canada in 2020 because of possible asbestos contamination and increased ovarian cancer risk. In 2019 a Reuters investigation (1) claimed J&J had known about the contamination issue since 1971. In future, the baby powder will be made from cornstarch.

In 2016, J&J was fined $72 million after a St Louis circuit court jury found that their baby talcum powder was linked to a case of ovarian cancer (2). In 2019 an award of $22 million was made in California to a woman with terminal lung cancer.

Over 38,000 lawsuits have been filed against the company worldwide. But J&J have created a subsidiary LTL Management to handle the talc-based baby powder issues. They then immediately let this company go into bankruptcy! It is considered likely this will avoid almost $2.9 billion of further claims against J&J.  

A widespread problem

Anybody who came to see me speak on the subject of cancer 14-20 years ago, will have seen a 15 minute ‘fun’ section, where I read labels on everyday toiletry products - the ones sold in your local supermarket at the time - and told you the relevant research about the ‘cancer risk’ of some of their ingredients. Those speeches took place all over the UK, and in the USA, Australia, Germany and Japan.

I used to take a dustbin on stage and throw up to 20 products in it, after telling the audience about the research studies on certain ingredients.  I also told the audience about a 2004 Royal Commission report into the subject, which concluded that there were 4,000 chemicals of concern in everyday products. And about a vote by EuroMPs (the ones that are elected) to substitute over 1000 ingredients with safer alternatives. This was rejected by a European Commissioner (the ones you didn’t elect) who wanted each ingredient to be fully researched  before these substitutions were made. It would take about 15 years to do the research he suggested - on each ingredient.

As with all things like this, it is relatively easy for companies with big budgets and large PR machines to ‘muddy’ the research waters. Worse, some of the companies selling the dodgy ingredients, also sell potions, drugs and so on, to treat the ailments caused. It’s a lucrative business strategy. J&J are also in the cancer treatment market (3).

Because it is so hard to produce a watertight piece of science that shows ingredient X definitively causes cancer, at CANCERactive we adopted ‘The Precautionary Principle’ - that where there is good evidence of an increased risk of cancer, it is your right to know exactly what the issue might be so that you can make a positive choice for yourself and your family.

We have done this not just for toiletry and personal care products from talcum powder to sunscreen, but for herbicides and pesticides, EMFs, smoking and even vaping. We just present the research as objectively as possible.

But the most worrying issue is that certain of these ingredients could well be cumulative. Already research into chemicals that can mimic the cancer-risk of high oestrogen have been proven to add up, thus negating any Government approved ‘Safe’ levels for an individual ingredient.

As always we urge you to read the label and go as toxin-free as you can. For the record, back in August 2012 Johnson & Johnson pledged to eliminate formaldehyde, parabens, triclosan and phthalates from all baby products (4).

Vote with your wallet - if enough people do it, change will happen.

Go to: Other potentially Toxic Toiletries




  1. Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its talcum powder






  Approved by the Medical Board.  Click Here



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