Serous Ovarian Cancer Caused by Exposure to Asbestos and Fibrous Talc in Cosmetic Talc Powders-A Case Series

J Occup Environ Med. 2020 Feb;62(2):e65-e77. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001800.


Objective: Asbestos is a known cause of ovarian cancer. We report 10 cases of serous ovarian cancer among users of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) asbestos-containing "cosmetic" talc products.

Methods: We conducted an asbestos exposure assessment during talc application and analyzed surgical tissues and talc containers for asbestos and talc.

Results: Talc was found in all cases and tremolite and/or anthophyllite asbestos was found in 8/10 cases. The asbestos fibers found in the "cosmetic" talc containers matched those found in tissues. We estimated inhaled asbestos dose ranged from 0.38 to 5.18 fiber years.

Conclusion: We provide evidence that the inhaled dose of asbestos/fibrous talc from "cosmetic" talc use causes ovarian cancer. The unique combination of the types of asbestiform minerals detected in cancerous tissue and "cosmetic" talc is a fingerprint for exposure to asbestos-containing talc.

MeSH terms

  • Asbestos*
  • Asbestos, Amphibole
  • Cosmetics*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mesothelioma
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Powders
  • Talc*


  • Asbestos, Amphibole
  • Cosmetics
  • Powders
  • Asbestos
  • tremolite
  • Talc