Health Watch: Cancer-causing chemical found in some popular sunscreens

Health Watch

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — There may be something lurking in your sunscreen you did not know about — a chemical linked to cancer.

You put sunscreen on to avoid cancer, but now there is a cancer threat in the actual product.

An online pharmacy and lab is asking the FDA to recall some popular sunscreen products after they ran independent tests. 

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 the sprays and lotions tested. That includes products sold by Neutrogena, Banana Boat and CVS.

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. 

“The problem with benzene is that it can cause leukemia, anemia, things like this,” said Lapook. “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.” 

Johnson & 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.”

The maker of Banana Boat said quote, “our sun care products undergo rigorous testing to ensure safety and quality and meet all FDA 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.

Experts who conducted the study believe the issue is manufacturing contamination affecting specific batches.

There are 78 sunscreens on the list.

You can check their list and see if your sunscreen may have benzene in it.

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