Does My Sunscreen Cause Cancer?

Does Sunscreen Cause Cancer?

On May 24th, 2021, a drug testing company called Valisure filed a Citizen’s Petition requesting that the Food and Drug Administration take action to recall 78 popular sunscreens and after sunburn care products as well as implement new rules and regulations pertaining to the sale of sunscreen and sunburn care products due to the presence of benzene–a known carcinogen. The Valisure Citizen’s Petition was the result of Valisure’s testing of hundreds of batches of products from hundreds of manufacturers and finding that the 78 listed products all contained benzene.

What is Benzene?

Benzene may be a liquid or gas. (The liquid tends to evaporate quickly upon air exposure.) It is found in gasoline and crude oil, volcanoes, forest fires, automobile exhaust, and cigarettes. Long-term exposure to small amounts or larger exposures has been linked to blood cancer formation. It is sometimes used as a solvent for cleaning, as well as a chemical used in the manufacturing process of making things such as plastics, lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides.

Does Benzene Cause Cancer?

Benzene has been associated with the formation of blood cancers in humans. People working around chemicals and oil refineries have a higher instance of developing acute myeloid leukemia—which is believed to be a result of benzene exposure over time. Due to the concern, the Federal Drug Administration’s policy is that benzine should not be used in the manufacture of drug substances, excipients, and drug products.” There is an exception if their use is unavoidable to produce certain drugs but even then, the FDA advises restricting benzene levels.  Sunscreens can be manufactured without the use of benzene, thus, the latter exception does not apply to sunscreen.

What Sunscreen Brands Were Found to Have Benzine?

applying sunscreenValisure reported finding some levels of benzene in certain tested batches of the following brands: Neutrogena, Sun Bum, CVS Health, Fruit of the Earth, Raw Elements, SunBurnt, GoodSense, Banana Boat, TopCare Everyday, EltaMD, Live Better by CVS Health, Max Block , Walgreens, Solimo, Aveena, Up & Up, Equate, and La Roche-Posay. However, not all products/batches by these brands contained benzene. The Citizen’s Petition contains a complete list of the products and batches testing positive for benzene.

How Did Benzene Get into Sunscreens?

It is not yet known how or why benzene was present in the sunscreen batches that tested positive.

Is there a Sunscreen Recall?

Yes.  Neutrogena and Coppertone have both issued a voluntary recall of certain sunscreen products. The following sunscreen and sunburn care products have been recalled by their manufacturers:

  • Neutrogena Beach Defense aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena Cool Dry Sport aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena Invisible Daily defense aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer aerosol sunscreen
  • Aveeno Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen
  • Coppertone Pure & Simple SPF 50 aerosol sunscreen (5 oz)
  • Coppertone Pure & Simple Kids SPF 50 aerosol sunscreen (5 oz)
  • Coppertone Pure & Simple Baby SPF 50 aerosol sunscreen (5 oz)
  • Coppertone Sport Mineral SPF 50 aerosol sunscreen (5 oz)
  • Coppertone Sport Spray SPF 50 aerosol sunscreen, travel size (1.6 oz)

How Did Benzene Get into Sunscreens?

It is not yet known how or why benzene was present in the recalled sunscreens. Manufacturers have indicated that it was not specifically added nor intended as an ingredient to sunscreen. Benzene can be a byproduct of the manufacturing process of certain chemicals and, thus, it may have simply formed during the manufacture of the products within the sunscreen.

Talk to a Lawyer

If you regularly used one of the recalled sunscreens and/or Valisure batches and have been diagnosed with blood cancer, talk to a sunscreen cancer lawyer about your rights. Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., Injury & Accident Lawyers are personal injury attorneys who have been helping accident victims for over 40 years.  We investigate product liability claims in addition to handling other personal injury claims. Some cases may be referred to or associated with another law firm for efficient handling.