Cancer-causing ingredient found in a number of popular sunscreens, study finds

National News

An online pharmacy and lab is asking the FDA to recall some popular sunscreens and after-sun products after tests it conducted showed they contained a known cancer-causing chemical. Elise Preston reports from New York.

With summer almost here, people are spending more time in the sun. But tests by Valisure -an online pharmacy and lab show dozens of popular sunscreens and after-sun products contain a chemical tied to blood cancers.

Benzene, a known carcinogen, was found in 27 % of sprays and lotions tested. That includes products sold by Neutrogena, Banana Boat and CVS.


“The problem with Benzene is that it can cause leukemia, anemia, things like this,” said Dr. Jon LaPook, CBS News Chief Medical Correspondent.

CBS Chief Medical Correspondent Jon LaPook says one of the things the FDA will look into is how the chemical is getting into the products.


“There is no manufacturer that’s intentionally adding it to the sunscreen product. Somehow it’s in there as a contaminate. It’s not clear how it gets in there. Is it one of the ingredients that got contaminated? Is it the process of making the lotion or the after sun product that creates it? We’re not sure,” said LaPook.

Johnson and Johnson, maker of Neutrogena products, told CBS news, “benzene is not an ingredient in any of our personal care products.” 

CVS said the products it sells are safe and quote, “we are in the process of reviewing and evaluating information in and related to Valisure’s petition, and will respond accordingly.” 

and the maker of banana boat said quote, “our sun care products undergo rigorous testing to ensure safety and quality and meet all f-d-a regulations. 

Not all the products from those brands were found to contain benzene. Health experts emphasize the vast majority of sunscreens do not contain the chemical, and people still need to protect themselves from the sun.

The FDA says it is reviewing Valisure’s petition for the recall. Valisure made the petition public, which includes a list of the batches with detected benzene levels. Click on the link here, The products can be found on pages 12 to 15.

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