Talcum powder is a fine, grainy substance made from "talc", composed of elements such as magnesium, oxygen, silicon and smaller or trace amounts of other minerals. When powdered, studies show that talc is a moisture absorber capable of reducing friction in sensitive areas of the body. Using the powder on sensitive areas however, studies have shown, caused small talc particles to travel to the ovaries–this causes an inflammatory response.
Studies show that since the early 1970s, scientists were already conducting research into the presence of talc particles found in ovarian cancer cells. In the early 1990s, another study supported the research that found women who used talcum powder in direct contact with their body on a daily to regular basis had a largely increased risk of developing ovarian cancer over their lifetime. Following the studies conducted between the 70s and into the 90s, unbiased medical research has also supported the conclusion that with repeated use of talcum powder, the risk of cancer significantly increases.
These studies–and the fact that Johnson & Johnson was aware of their existence–are cause for the litigation that the multi-billion-dollar company now finds themselves at the center of. With the studies in hand, J & J had what's known as "foreseeability" and failed to act accordingly with that knowledge. As a refresher, "foreseeability" is the knowledge that something potentially dangerous could happen if the party or parties involved do not correct the problem. When "foreseeability" is neglected, a company becomes liable for any negative outcome–in this case thousands of cases of ovarian cancer over the course of decades–that may occur as a result of their lack of action.