Idaho woman wins $40 million in lawsuit over baby powder-linked cancer

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A Los Angeles jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay an Idaho woman $40.3 million after she developed mesothelioma, a cancer linked to asbestos in the company's talc, or baby, powder on Friday. 

Nancy Cabibi, 71, was diagnosed with the often fatal cancer, which typically strikes the lining of the lungs, in 2017 and has since undergone surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy. 

The exact cause of mesothelioma is unclear - beyond the fact that it stems from DNA mutations - but evidence suggests that asbestos can lodge in the lungs, corrupting the genetic material in cells there and fueling the development of the cancer. 

More than 14,000 lawsuits alleging that Johnson & Johnson's baby powder triggered ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, and Cabibi's award pushes the total bill the pharmaceutical giant has footed for the products well over $50 billion.

A jury awarded Nancy Cabibi over $40 million after she alleged Johnson & Johnson's asbestos-laden baby powder cause her mesothelioma, an often deadly cancer of the lung lining

A jury awarded Nancy Cabibi over $40 million after she alleged Johnson & Johnson's asbestos-laden baby powder cause her mesothelioma, an often deadly cancer of the lung lining 

Mesothelima is a relatively rare cancer, striking 3,000 people a year, accounting for less than 0.3 percent of all cancer diagnoses in the US. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers asbestos a known carcinogen that causes lung, larynx, and ovarian cancers, as well as mesothelioma. 

Asbestos is mineral, but its composition is unusual in that it can actually be pulled apart into microscopic fibers that don't break down naturally. 

As a result, those fibers can get lodged in the lungs of people exposed to asbestos for years, wreaking havoc on those cells and sending DNA haywire. 

The result, in some cases, is cancer. 

In fact, Asbestos.com estimates that between two and 10 percent of all people who are exposed to large quantities of asbestos over prolonged periods of time develop pleural mesothelioma, the sub-type of the cancer that accounts for 75 percent of cases. 

WHAT IS MESOTHELIOMA?

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops in the lining that covers the outer surface of some of the body's organs. It's usually linked to asbestos exposure.

It mainly affects the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma), although it can also affect the lining of the tummy (peritoneal mesothelioma), heart or testicles.

More than 2,600 people are diagnosed with the condition each year in the UK. Most cases are diagnosed in people aged 60-80 and men are affected more commonly than women.

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