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Bryanna Jefferson - “Johnson & Johnson and Talcum Powder”

As a baby, I was I most definitely considered a “Johnson & Johnson baby” all my mother used was Johnson & Johnson products. From before the time I was born to the present, Johnson & Johnson products have been a staple in my home, and will more than likely continue to be one for years to come. I am accustomed to using Johnson & Johnson products and I love the new baby smell that comes with it. My family, ranging from my great grandmother to my newborn cousins use Johnson & Johnson, my friends do too. If Johnson & Johnson brand products have been used for decades without incidents occurring previously, then what is so dangerous about them now?

In 2009 the first lawsuit regarding talcum powder was filed against Johnson & Johnson in the town of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This lawsuit came to light after a woman by the name of Diane Berg was diagnosed with ovarian cancer prior to the age of 50 years old. She used Johnson & Johnson baby powder for cosmetic reasons in close proximity to her genital area for much of her life but after her diagnosis she went home and immediately discarded the product. She then proceeded to sue Johnson & Johnson blaming them for negligence and neglecting to inform users of the risk that comes with using talcum powder in the genital area, believing that they were at fault for her illness, In the court case of Berg vs. Johnson & Johnson, Johnson & Johnson was found guilty by the South Dakota judicial system because it was found that the pharmaceutical company hid important health information from the public for more than forty years and it was done on purpose. It comes to a point where that is in fact considered a crime. People know the risk of a plethora of the products they use and they continue to purchase them, there was no need for health-related information to be hidden for such an extended time period. If that court case had never happened the withheld information could have still been a secret for all we know.

Talcum powder is made up of elements including magnesium, silicon, and oxygen which is used to absorb moisture as well as limit friction. For years’ baby powder has been used to try and avoid diaper rash amongst babies and elder woman have put baby powder under their breast to help with the sweating and there are athletes who even put baby powder in their shoes. So many woman have used baby powder on their newborns which is something important as well as on themselves meaning it is not something that is perceived as a threat especially to such a young fragile life. There are so many different ways people use baby powder. Talc is not typically considered dangerous nor is it a drug which means that the research isn’t extensive. Medical reports were not thought to be necessary so they were not readily available and receiving data through a study would have to rely on a level of personal accountability which is exactly always reliable especially in such an important type of study. Studies could also be ruled as bias and later inadmissible in court. There is also the high possibility of individuals applying their talcum powder in using various different methods resulting in too many independent variables to have an effective and trustworthy study. With that being said there is currently no conclusive evidence proving whether or not talcum powder itself is dangerous.

The few studies that have been done did not locate the link between talc and ovarian cancer. A review was made public about the findings on talc during 2015 and was declared safe in when used as described. As of right now the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to identify a risk factor for ovarian cancer being talc.

Many products from a multitude of different brands that people use every day contain talcum powder ranging from makeup and toothpaste to medication manufacturing and edible items such as gum and rice. Not a single one of those products have seemed to pose the same problem that Johnson & Johnson was said to have cause. It could be possible that Johnson & Johnson uses their own special formula when it comes to their talcum powder but the cases in which Johnson & Johnson has been accused of causing health issues is still very limited. If more people were to step forward prior to a label being issued, taking the product off of the shelves would be a reasonable decision; since that is not that case, taking their products off of the shelves sounds extreme with the lack on concrete evidence pointing to a problem and would not only be terrible for business but could be extremely upsetting for many long-term Johnson & Johnson customers and later be found to be a needless overaction to a solitary incident. To avoid further court cases or legal issues Johnson & Johnson should now put a warning label on their product in clear view to make the public aware of the alleged increase in developing ovarian cancer clear. With the addition of the label to their packaging nobody can say that the pharmaceutical company is withholding information again as well as people now being able to educate themselves on the possible risk that may come from using this specific product or a particular ingredient in certain products.

With tobacco companies knowing for years that the cigarettes, infamously known as cancer sticks, that they are selling have been linked directly to not only heart disease but cancer as well and is still being sold across the country. Thanks to the Surgeon General Warning cigarettes are being sold constantly, there is no reason that Johnson & Johnson brand products can’t do the same. There is no reason their products should have to be removed from the shelves, especially without evidence of being dangerous to the public. If a cigarette is acceptable to sell with a warning, it would be absurd to end the sales of Johnson & Johnson brand baby powder; a product intended to help, not hurt. Shoppers should be informed and able to assess any possible risk and make decisions on their own when it comes to the products they wish to use.

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