Talcum powder linked to cancer pushed to Black women by corporation

Mawuli Mel Davis of the Davis-Bozeman Law Firm is representing a woman in a Talc related death (Photo Credit: Used by permission Davis-Bozeman Law Firm)
Mawuli Mel Davis of the Davis-Bozeman Law Firm is representing a woman in a Talc related death (Photo Credit: Used by permission Davis-Bozeman Law Firm)

Many women make it a part of their regular hygiene to sprinkle talcum powder on themselves and undergarments, especially after a shower. It’s something that has been a regular practice especially for women in the Black community. But recent evidence and lawsuits now show that this practice could be endangering their health. There have been at least 20 medical studies that indicate a significant link between the use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer. But did companies making the powder such as Johnson & Johnson know about this danger? According to noted Atlanta attorney Mawuli Mel Davis, the answer is yes.

Davis and his law firm Davis-Bozeman are leading the way to inform Black women in Georgia about the risks and possible legal action against these companies. According to Davis, internal memos that emerged in a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson show that sales of talcum powder products began to fall as many White women aware of the risk stopped using their products on themselves and their family members. In response, the company intentionally decided to push their products in the Black community, especially among women. Davis went on to describe this decision as a “Corporate Tuskegee Experiment.” His words seem to ring true, as Johnson and Johnson has now lost 2 lawsuits over their talcum products in the past year. A St. Louis, Missouri jury awarded the family of Jackie Fox $10 million in actual damages and $62 million in punitive damages because of her death from ovarian cancer in 2015. On May 2, 2016 the company also lost a case in the case of the death of Gloria Ristesund also from St. Louis. In that case, the jury awarded $5 million in damages and $50 million in punitive damages. Across the country, dozens of women and also surviving family members of those deceased are suing the company.

Attorney Davis has stated that his firm has taken on the case of a 34-year-old Black woman in Georgia who died of ovarian cancer in 2015. The woman, according to family members, was a vegan and lived a healthy lifestyle and regularly used talcum powder. Davis stated, “While we are investigating this case, we want to ring the alarm to Black woman about the dangers of talcum powder. We say, ‘Don’t Wait! Stop Now/’ We are calling on sororities, women’s health organizations and all activists to take part in this health movement. We must get the word out: remove this product from your home!”

Mo Barnes
Mo Barnes

Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician. He has been writing for Rolling Out since 2014. Whether it means walking through a bloody police shooting to help a family find justice or showing the multifaceted talent of the Black Diaspora I write the news.

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