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The dark side of sunscreen products

On Behalf of | Oct 4, 2021 | Products Liability |

Sunscreens are intended to reduce the risk of cancer but some of these products contain substances that increase the odds of developing cancer. Consumers have filed sunscreen lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, Neutrogena, Aveeno, and other manufacturers for making products that contain benzene. Exposure to the toxic chemical benzene may cause leukemia and other cancers for users.


Benzene is a toxic chemical that is used in the manufacture of plastics, rubber, and pesticides. It is also created in nature by forest fires and volcanoes. Benzene is also believed to cause cancer by developing chronic inflammation and suppressing the immune system.

The World Health Organization classified benzene as a human carcinogen based on evidence that it causes myeloid leukemia. Some studies have also linked it to acute lymphocytic leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.


There is no evidence that sunscreen causes cancer, according to MD Anderson Cancer Institute. But benzene and other chemical in sunscreen may increase the risk of developing cancer. According to testing by the online pharmacy Valisure, benzene was detected in 78 out of the 300 sunscreens and after-sun products it tested.

Sunscreen is not allowed to contain benzene. But this chemical could have contaminated sunscreen products or was developed as a byproduct of other ingredients in the products that were tested, according to the director of radiation oncology for the Boca Raton Regional Hospital Lynn Cancer Institute.

Recalled products

J&J, Aveeno, and Neutrogena recalled five aerosol sunscreens because laboratory testing indicated that here were low levels of benzene in these products. These products include Aveeno Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen, Neutrogena Invisible Daily defense aerosol sunscreen, Neutrogena Beach Defense aerosol sunscreen, Neutrogena Cool Dry Sport aerosol sunscreen and Neutrogena Ultra Sheer aerosol sunscreen.

These companies are still determining how carcinogen got into their products. J&J stated that the amount of benzene in their products was not anticipated to cause adverse health problems.

Valisure filed an FDA citizens petition shortly before J&J recalled these products. According to Valisure’s testing, several J&J products contained benzene amounts over the acceptable limits set by the FDA and EPA.  Valisure said additional products containing benzene remained on the market.


Toxic tort litigation over these sunscreen products has just begun. There have been no settlements, trial, or jury verdicts yet.

Judges may consolidate cases into class action lawsuits. Some consumers seeking refunds for their purchase price of J&J recalled products have filed class-action suits.

An attorney can assist consumers harmed by dangerous products. They can help them pursue their right to compensation.