Sunscreen & Skin Cancer

sunscreen effects and benzene lawsuit

What is the ingredient/chemical in sunscreen that causes cancer?

It’s a well-established scientific fact that sun exposure is linked to skin cancer. Sunscreen is a popular way to block the ultraviolet radiation associated with skin damage and protect against cancer. But evidence is emerging that certain types of sunscreen contain benzene, an industrial chemical that’s a known human carcinogen.

Dozens of sunscreen products recently tested positive for benzene—a chemical also found in gasoline and paint thinners—leading to demands for product recalls and questions about the safety of sunscreen chemicals. These new findings suggest that people who use sunscreen in an effort to avoid skin cancer may actually be increasing their risk of developing other types of cancers. Regular exposure to benzene, even at very low levels, is a major risk factor for blood tissue cancers such as leukemia, myeloma, and lymphoma.

The toxicity of benzene has been documented for more than 100 years. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies benzene as “carcinogenic to humans.” The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also classified benzene as a human carcinogen. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates sunscreens and considered them drugs, classifies benzene as a “Class 1 solvent” that should not be used in the manufacture of drug substances and drug products.

If you used a sunscreen containing benzene, and have been diagnosed with cancer, you may be able to file a sunscreen cancer lawsuit.


Not all sunscreens contain benzene. However, research indicates that many popular sunscreen brands do contain benzene. These brands include:

Sun Bum
CVS Health;
Fruit of the Earth
Raw Elements
Banana Boat
Raw Elements
Max Block
Up & Up

Valisure analyzed nearly 300 unique batches from dozens of sunscreen brands and detected benzene in 78 product batches, including 26 products with benzene levels between 0.1 parts per million (ppm) and 2 ppm, and 14 products with benzene levels over 2 ppm. “Even benzene at 0.1 ppm in a sunscreen could expose people to excessively high nanogram amounts of benzene,” Dr. Christopher Bunick told Valisure.

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Is Neutrogena carcinogenic?

Johnson & Johnson, the company that owns Neutrogena, issued a voluntary recall of some Neutrogena sunscreen products in response to Valisure testing results. J&J said that benzene is not an ingredient in any of its sunscreen products and that the recall is being done out of “an abundance of caution.”


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Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Weightless Sunscreen Spray, SPF 100+
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Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Weightless Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70
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Neutrogena Beach Defense Oil-Free Body Sunscreen Spray, SPF 100
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Neutrogena Invisible Daily Defense Body Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 60+
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Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30;
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Neutrogena Beach Defense Spray Body Sunscreen SPF 50
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Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 45
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Neutrogena CoolDry Sport Water-Resistant Sunscreen Spray SPF 70
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Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant Sunscreen SPF 70

Oxybenzone is a common active ingredient in sunscreens. The FDA says that oxybenzone is safe, but environmental and health groups have concerns over the chemical.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) calls oxybenzone “the most worrisome sunscreen active ingredient.” It’s been shown to cause allergic skin reactions, behave like an endocrine disruptor (i.e., interfere with normal hormone function), and is potentially more harmful to children. A rat study from the National Toxicology Program links oxybenzone to “equivocal evidence of carcinogenic activity.” And beginning in 2021, Hawaii is banning sunscreen products containing oxybenzone due to concerns that the ingredient damages coral reefs.

Sunscreen is supposed to prevent skin cancer—not cause it. Serious questions remain about how benzene ended up in these products and what the manufacturers knew, or should have known, about cancer causing ingredients in sunscreen. What’s certain is that a known human carcinogen has no place in any product, never mind one that is intended to be applied every day, for a lifetime.

Did you use a sunscreen that, unbeknownst to you or your doctor, contains benzene? Have you been diagnosed with cancer? Our sunscreen cancer lawyers are ready to review your claim and let you know how we can help. Get in touch with Verify My Lawsuit for a no-cost, no-obligation case review.