Tag Archives: cancer

Major Brand Must Pay $72 Million for Cancer Death Linked to Talcum Powder

This sad case is an example of a chronic exposure (exposed to something over a long span of time) and how it can be detrimental to health.  Many ingredients are not harmful in small doses (acute exposure) but if they accumulate in the body they can cause harm.  The claims against Johnson & Johnson are worrisome and bring to the forefront (again) deceptive practices companies use to benefit their sales–something that has been seen in other consumer product industries. 

Copyright Reuters

Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a Missouri state jury to pay $72 million of damages to the family of a woman whose death from ovarian cancer was linked to her use of the company’s talc-based Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for several decades.

In a verdict announced late Monday night, jurors in the circuit court of St. Louis awarded the family of Jacqueline Fox $10 million of actual damages and $62 million of punitive damages, according to the family’s lawyers and court records.

The verdict is the first by a U.S. jury to award damages over the claims, the lawyers said.

Johnson & Johnson faces claims that it, in an effort to boost sales, failed for decades to warn consumers that its talc-based products could cause cancer. About 1,000 cases have been filed in Missouri state court, and another 200 in New Jersey.

Fox, who lived in Birmingham, Alabama, claimed she used Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for feminine hygiene for more than 35 years before being diagnosed three years ago with ovarian cancer. She died in October at age 62.

Jurors found Johnson & Johnson liable for fraud, negligence and conspiracy, the family’s lawyers said. Deliberations lasted four hours, following a three-week trial.

Jere Beasley, a lawyer for Fox’s family, said Johnson & Johnson “knew as far back as the 1980s of the risk,” and yet resorted to “lying to the public, lying to the regulatory agencies.” He spoke on a conference call with journalists.

Carol Goodrich, a Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman, said: “We have no higher responsibility than the health and safety of consumers, and we are disappointed with the outcome of the trial. We sympathize with the plaintiff’s family but firmly believe the safety of cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence.

Trials in several other talc lawsuits have been set for later this year, according to Danielle Mason, who also represented Fox’s family at trial.

In October 2013, a federal jury in Sioux Falls, South Dakota found that plaintiff Deane Berg’s use of Johnson & Johnson’s body powder products was a factor in her developing ovarian cancer. Nevertheless, it awarded no damages, court records show.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc now owns the Shower to Shower brand but was not a defendant in the Fox case.

The case is Hogans et al v. Johnson & Johnson et al, Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri, No. 1422-CC09012.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York. Additional reporting by Jessica Dye in New York; editing by Steve Orlofsky and Alan Crosby)

via Reuters http://news.yahoo.com/j-j-must-pay-72-million-cancer-death-154301727–finance.html;_ylt=AwrC0CZlGdZWpgkAzmzQtDMD;_ylu=X3oDMTByaWg0YW05BGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwM4BHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg–




Here’s the Staggering Healthcare Cost of Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals

Endocrine disruptors have become increasing prevalent in the past several decades, with exposure occurring from food, makeup, and food containers, etc.  A study released in a peer reviewed journal quantified the cost of ailments caused by endocrine disruptors in the European Union and United States.

March 5, 2015, Mandy Oaklander–A suite of new studies puts a price tag on health problems linked to certain chemicals in our food, makeup and even couches—and it’s steep.  The series of papers, just published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, convened expert panels who reviewed laboratory and population-based evidence that certain endocrine-disrupting chemicals—including pesticides, bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, which are said to interfere with hormones in the human body—contribute to disease and disability.  The cost in the European Union, they concluded, is likely €157 billion ($209 billion U.S.) per year, and may be as high as €270 billion ($359 billion) a year.

Courtesy TIME.com

The scientists looked at 5% of known endocrine disruptors and estimated costs of exposure, including loss of economic productivity through disability and disease, in the European Union. They focused on three categories of health issues for which they felt the evidence was strongest: impacts on the developing brain and neurodevelopmental disabilities, obesity and diabetes, and male reproductive disabilities.  Their estimates were approximately €157 billion per year—more than 1% of the European GDP, the researchers note.

Organophosphate pesticide exposure accounted for the biggest chunk of the cost, at €120 billion.  Plastics, cans, phthalates and BPA came in second at €26 billion. Neurological health problems including ADHD were by far the most impactful, researchers concluded, at €132 billion per year.

“Our findings suggest potentially that endocrine-disrupting chemicals are replacing lead and methylmercury as leading contributors to neurodevelopmental disease and disability in children,” says Dr. Leonardo Trasande, lead author on the papers and associate professor of pediatrics and environmental medicine at New York University School of Medicine. By comparison, he says, the cost of lead exposure in Europe is roughly €50 billion.

Trasande adds that the cost estimates would likely be similar in the United States, though because of U.S. efforts like the Food Quality Protection Act to lessen pesticide exposure, pesticide-related costs would probably be lower.

There are proven ways to lower your exposure to the major endocrine-disrupting chemicals, Trasande says, including eating organic to cut out organophosphate pesticides and not microwaving plastic to limit phthalates.  But real change will need regulation reform, he says. “Except for the Food Quality Protection Act, the regulatory model in the United States assumes innocent until proven guilty, resulting in broad and widespread experimentation on humans with exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals,” he says. “We’re just trying to put information into the hands of decision makers, so that we can consciously and openly decide whether it’s appropriate to allow for a 50% probability that the use of a chemical may contribute to a condition and lead to billions of dollars of costs.”

(via Time)

Senate Passes Bill for Better Sunscreen

This is potentially good news for many who are concerned about the reportedly toxic and even carcinogenic ingredients contained in sunscreen.  A past Label Poise focused on conventional sunscreen and the ingredient list was quite long.  The Sunscreen Innovation Act seeks “[t]o amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to provide an alternative process for review of safety and effectiveness of nonprescription sunscreen active ingredients and for other purposes.”  How helpful this bill will be will be seen if a final version is agreed upon and signed into law.   The full text of the Sunscreen Innovation Act can be read here.

A highly anticipated bill that could bring more sunscreen ingredients to market has passed

Alexandra Sifferlin, September 17, 2014–The Senate passed a bill Wednesday that requires the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to respond to current pending sunscreen ingredients within a shorter period of time — an important factor in ensuring that people have the most up-to-date ways to protect their skin from cancer-causing UVA rays, proponents of the legislation have argued.

While skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in the U.S., eight sunscreen ingredients have been pending in FDA backlog for years — some for over a decade — even while several of the pending ingredients have already been used in Europe and Asia for years.

As TIME reported in May, proponents for sunscreen modernization were optimistic that a bipartisan bill, the Sunscreen Innovation Act, would pass over the summer. The bill, which also requires the FDA to respond to all potential sunscreen ingredients in the future within a year and a half at maximum, moved along quickly through the summer months.  A version of the bill was passed by the House in July. Now, the House and Senate will meet to agree on a final legislation of the bill. Once they reach consensus, it will go to President Obama to sign.

“The two bills are pretty darn similar, so we don’t anticipate the negotiation will be contentious,” says Michael Werner, policy adviser of the Public Access to SunScreens Coalition.

One of the reasons it takes so long for sunscreen ingredients to get approval in the U.S. is because of the regulation process that the FDA currently has in place. In Europe, ingredients are regulated as cosmetics, but in the U.S. sunscreens are go through a process similar to drug approval, which takes longer and has more safety requirements.

However, many ingredients had not received any feedback from the FDA, not even negative feedback, which prompted skin-care advocates and policymakers to question why the FDA had taken so long to respond, even given the excuse of a stringent system.

As the bill began to move through the voting process, the FDA started responding to some of the pending applications.

(via TIME)


How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XXIX

Considering it is Sunscreen Week, it only makes sense to cover a sunscreen! Sunscreen is a must for many, not only during the summer, but year round. If you are applying sunscreen daily, one must stop and think: “What exactly is in my sunscreen?” There has been a fiar amount of controversy surrounding sunscreens and their believed toxicity over the past few years, which have mainly centered about Zinc Oxide nanoparticles.

For today’s feature of Label Poise, we’re going to do things a bit differently.  Usually for Label Poise each ingredient along with its safety rating and information about its origin and purpose are listed, however, the sunscreen featured is very different from any of the other products that have been featured. This product has 52 ingredients (yes you read that correctly!)–2 active and 50 inactive. Many of the inactive ingredients have been covered here before, so only the active ingredients and the first 6 inactive ingredients will be covered.

The Label


The Ingredients

Titanium Dioxide: Safe!  Also known as CI 77891, this is a white pigment used for various applications. In pure form Titanium Dioxide is a potential human carcinogen when inhaled. Its health impacts are dependent on size (i.e. nanoparticles), based on the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). It should be fine to use in this topical product. (MSDS)

Zinc Oxide:   Safe!/Beware!!Zinc Oxide is an inorganic compound that is commonly produced as a white powder. It is used in sunscreens to absorb UVA radiation. It can be a skin and eye irritant in pure form, as well as a mutagen to mammalian somatic cells, though it is not known to be carcinogenic, or teratogenic. Zinc oxide has been the source of significant controversy when it is produced as a nanoparticle, which allows it to provide the same UV protection without leaving a white residue on the skin. (MSDS)

Water: Safe! Water is the ultimate moisturizer and is a key ingredient in any moisturizing product.

Butyloctyl Salicylate: Beware!/Avoid! This ingredient is an ester of Salicylic acid and is typically used as a skin conditioning agent and solvent. It is considered safe by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review when formulated to not increase the skin sun sensitivity or be a skin sensitizer. It is not believed to be a skin or eye irritant. It is not known to be a mutagen or aquatic toxin. (MSDS)

Cetyl Dimethicone: Avoid! Also known as Cetyl Dimethicone Copoyol and Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, this ingredient is a synthetic silicone-based polymer that is typically used as an emollient, skin conditioning agent (occlusive), and anti foaming agent. This ingredient prolongs the release of active molecules and does not have a tacky texture applied to the skin. No toxicological information available. (MSDS)

DimethiconeBeware! Dimethicone is a synthetic chemical polymer siloxanes derived from silica. They are used as a skin conditioning agent and it forms a protective barrier on the skin the prevents moisture from leaving or entering, which can be harmful to skin. (MSDS)

Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer:  Beware! This ingredient is a polymer of styrene and a monomer of acrylic acid, methacrylic acid or a simple ester of one of the two. It is primarily used as a film former and is used fir its opaque properties. It has a large molecular weigh and does not penetrate the skin, though there are contamination concerns with acrylic acid, which is a respiratory toxicant and potential carcinogen, as well as 2-ethylhexyl acrylate which is a known immune system, skin, and lung toxicant. This ingredient has been reviewed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review and is believed to be safe in low quantities, when formulated to be non irritating. No MSDS.

Trimethylsiloxysilicate:  Beware!/Avoid!  This ingredient is a silicone based polymer that is typically used as an emollient, skin conditioning agent (occlusive), and anti foaming agent. Due to its structure, it is not water soluble. This ingredient has been reviewed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review and is not believed to be genotoxic, carcinogenic, skin irritants or sensitizers. No MSDS.

Not Covered

44 ingredients!!!

Sunscreen 101

Sunscreen is a topical application, commonly as a lotion, spray, or gel, that absorbs or reflects some of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.  The use of sunscreen is of particular importance due to the effects that excess solar radiation has on the skin, which include mild effects such as sunburn and photodermatitis, or severe impacts such as melanoma and other forms of skin cancer. UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolent B) rays are the major components of solar radiation that can damaging effects on the skin.

Penetration of UV Radiation

UVA is an abbreviation for long wavelength ultraviolet A radiation, while UVB is an abbreviation for medium wavelength ultraviolet B radiation.  UVA and UVB rays penetrate the various layers of skin.  Though UVA is more abundant and known to penetrate deeper layers of dermis (skin) than UVB, it is typically more benign than UVB.  UVA rays cause damage to the basal and squamous layers of the skin (see photo) and is a major contributor to wrinkling (photoaging) and skin aging, as well as carcinoma in the cells of the aforementioned skin layers.  Tanning beds can expose the skin to approximately 12 times the amount of UVA radiation than that of the sun.  UVB rays do not penetrate as deep as UVA rays but cause the same effects, such as photoaging (wrinkling) and skin aging, as well as cause the most malignant form of skin cancer, melanoma.

UVA = 400-320 nanometers UVB = 320-290 nanometers UVC= 290-100 nanometers

SPF is an acronym for Sun Protection Factor and is a label used to indicate how well the product will protect an individual’s skin from burning due to extended sun exposure.  SPF is determined by using the equivalent of noontime sun indoors and determining how long it takes an individual’s skin to burn using SPF or not using SPF.  SPF often refers to protection from UVB, though certain active ingredients in sunscreen also protect against UVA rays.

A simple way to determine how long you can be exposed to sun before you ‘burn’ with sunscreen is to multiply the SPF factor by the amount of time it takes your skin to burn without sunscreen.  Therefore, if it takes your skin 15 minutes to burn without sunscreen and you wear SPF 45 sunscreen you can be exposed to sun for 675 minutes (11 hours and 15 minutes) without burning when applying the recommended amount of sunscreen.  It should be noted that sweating and water exposure decrease the effectiveness of the sunscreen and therefore should be reapplied as recommended.  The amount of time it takes skin to burn will vary based on skin color.  Darker skin tones have the best natural protection from the sun and take significant time to ‘burn’, whereas pale skin has very minimal protection and burns easily.


The most commonly used active ingredients in sunscreen that absorb UVA and UVB radiation include titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, oxybenzone, avobenzone, dioxybenzone, and aminobenzoic acid (PABA).  Most these active ingredients provides protection from UVB though some also protect from UVA, or only from UVA radiation.  Clothing can offer sun protection, depending on thickness though it typically does not exceed and SPF of 6.  Various natural ingredients (oils, butter, etc.) offer low SPF protection as well.


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share in the comments!

Surgeon General Warning on Skin Cancer

Surgeon General warning on skin cancer

Skin cancer is on the rise, according to the American Cancer Society, with more cases diagnosed annually than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer cases combined.

The United States surgeon general issued a call to action Tuesday to prevent the disease, calling it a major public health problem that requires immediate action. Nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer each year.

“Until today, the surgeon general has never said, ‘UV radiation is bad for you; protect your skin,’ ” acting Surgeon General Dr. Boris Lushniak said.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has set five goals for communities to decrease the risk of skin cancer, such as providing shade at parks, schools and other public spaces, and reducing indoor tanning.

A dermatologist himself, Lushniak said it’s important for parents to teach their children about sun safety, just as they would dental care and eating healthily.

“We have to change the social norms about tanning,” he said. “Tanned skin is damaged skin, and we need to shatter the myth that tanned skin is a sign of health.”

Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer because of how fast it spreads to other parts of the body, accounts for 2 percent of skin cancer cases but is responsible for the majority of skin cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society.

Each year, more than 63,000 cases of melanoma are diagnosed in the United States, and 9,000 people die from it. From 1973 to 2011, melanoma rates increased more than 200 percent, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The National Cancer Institute reported that melanoma is the most common form of cancer in adults ages 25 to 29 and second most common for young adults aged 15 to 29.

To reduce the risk of skin cancer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing a hat, sunglasses and protective clothing and using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.

On Monday, the House of Representatives passed the Sunscreen Innovation Act.

The bill includes a review process for all manufacturers submitting a new sunscreen to the Food and Drug Administration, with a deadline for the FDA to provide final decisions: one year for pending applications and 1½ years for new ones.

The last over-the-counter sunscreen ingredient approved by the FDA was in the 1990s, according to the Public Access to SunScreens Coalition. Eight new sunscreen applications have since been filed with the FDA. All are still waiting for review, the coalition says; some have been waiting for over a decade.

The current policy requires the FDA to undergo an extensive rule-making process before reviewing any new product application and adding it to the approved list, according to coalition policy director Michael Werner. This can take years, making the process inefficient.

“This law takes out the rule-making aspect and allows the FDA to simply issue a decision,” Werner said.

Many of the new sunscreens awaiting approval in the United States have been available in Europe, Central Asia and South America for years. Generally speaking, the ingredients waiting for approval are simply newer types of UVA filters than are currently being used, Werner said, but they differ slightly by manufacturer.

Indoor tanning is also a major contributor to skin cancer. It’s estimated that more than 400,000 cases of skin cancer each year are related to indoor tanning, 6,000 of which are melanomas, according to Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard Koh.

There are laws requiring minors to have parental consent in 44 states, but only 10 prohibit minors from indoor tanning altogether. According to the CDC, about 30 percent of white women ages 18 to 25 report indoor tanning.

“The concern with indoor tanning is the concentrated burst of high-intensity UV rays on uncovered skin,” Lushniak said. “Although it’s only a short burst, it’s a higher intensity than what one would experience outdoors.”

Two-thirds of adults reported having a sunburn in 2010, according to the CDC. Because a single sunburn increases a person’s risk for skin cancer, Lushniak said that it’s important for people to realize that sun safety applies to everyone, even if you’re not fair-skinned.

“We know that the risk level for skin cancer decreases with more skin pigmentation,” he said. “But no one is immune. All races are still diagnosed and still affected by UV rays.”

(via Pix11 — July 30, 2014)