Another potential carcinogen found in sunscreen products

Scientists have found another potential carcinogen in several brands of sunscreen products and are petitioning the FDA to have them removed from the market, Bloomberg reported Aug. 9. 

The scientists, from the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Virginia, said they found benzophenone in several brands of sunscreen, including Coppertone, Banana Boat and Neutrogena, according to Bloomberg

Craig Downs, PhD, executive director of the nonprofit lab, filed a petition for the FDA to remove all sunscreens containing the active ingredient octocrylene from the market. Products made with octocrylene may contain benzophenone, a possible carcinogen that interferes with key hormones and reproductive organs, Bloomberg reported. 

The World Health Organization's cancer research arm classifies benzophenone as a possible carcinogen based on animal studies, but there is no data available on a cancer link in humans, the agency told Bloomberg. There is research that shows benzophenone in sunscreen can interfere with estrogen, according to the WHO. 

About 2,400 sunscreen products are made with octocrylene and "we don't know what their safety is," Mr. Downs told Bloomberg. "The FDA doesn't know what their safety is, and it's unconscionable that the FDA would allow something that we don't know if it's safe or not."

But the Washington lobby Personal Care Products Council, which represents 600 global cosmetics and personal care products companies, told Bloomberg that the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory's research "perpetuates misinformation and needlessly misleads and scares consumers about the safety of sunscreen products." 

The European Union has approved octocrylene for use in sunscreens, the lobby stated. 

FDA spokesperson Courtney Rhodes told Bloomberg the agency "takes seriously any safety concerns raised about products we regulate, including sunscreen." The agency will "continue to monitor the sunscreen marketplace to help ensure the availability of safe sunscreens for U.S. consumers," while it evaluates the contamination concerns, she added. 

In May, the carcinogen benzene, which is an industrial chemical known to cause cancer and other potentially serious health risks, was found in 78 batches of sunscreen products tested by Valisure. 

In July, Johnson & Johnson recalled four Neutrogena sunscreen products and one Aveeno sunscreen product after internal testing detected low levels of benzene. 

Read Bloomberg's full article here.

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