New Study Links Talc to Malignant Mesothelioma

In the midst of an avalanche of lawsuits filed by malignant mesothelioma victims against companies selling and manufacturing talc-based products, consumer giants like Johnson & Johnson, Avon and Colgate Palmolive have argued that their talc has no asbestos contamination and that talc does not cause the rare and fatal disease. But a recent study conducted by researchers from the Department of Pathology at Duke University has found that significant numbers of those diagnosed with mesothelioma have talc fibers in their lungs.

Talc Exposure and Mesothelioma

The Duke researchers set out to examine whether talc exposure plays a role in the development of malignant mesothelioma, and if so, what role it plays. Guided by existing knowledge regarding asbestos exposure’s strong association with the disease, the group analyzed lung tissue samples from a large number of mesothelioma patients.

The group used light microscopy and electron microscopy equipped with an energy dispersive spectrometer to identify the presence of asbestos, talc and other mineral fiber concentrations 5 µm or greater in length. They compared samples from 609 patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma to those of 20 previously published controls.

Talc Fibers Detected in 62% of Mesothelioma Patients

The results of the study were astonishing, and will likely be raised in future mesothelioma lawsuits against companies selling talc products to consumers. Talc fibers were detected in 62% of the mesothelioma patients. This represented a significantly higher percentage than the talc in the control group, and elevated levels of talc was found in 9.2 percent of men and 20% of women. The study also showed high percentages of parietal plaques and asbestosis identified with talc.

While a history of working in industries associated with asbestos exposure was identified in the majority of the men and women and most of the patients’ talc levels being indistinguishable from background, a full 11% had elevated talc levels, leading many to believe that talc indeed plays a role in the development of mesothelioma.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and you believe that exposure to either talc or asbestos played a role, the Patient Advocates at can help. Contact us today at  1-800-692-8608 to learn more.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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