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VERIFY: Yes, your sunscreen may contain benzene; here's what doctors say you should do

Dozens of popular sunscreens have been flagged as a potential danger, with benzene discovered in their formulas.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Summer weather is here, which means many will be lathering on the sunscreen.

But could some of that protection be doing more harm than good?

A WCNC Charlotte viewer reached out to ask if they should be concerned about a new report with benzene, a cancer-causing chemical, in popular sunscreens.

The Question

Can using sunscreen with benzene do more harm than good?

The Sources

  • Dr. Alyssa Daniel, a dermatologist with Novant Health
  • Valisure, the company that studied benzene in sunscreens

The Answer

While a true scientific analysis has not been done to compare the cancer risk of going without sunscreen to the risk of wearing sunscreen with benzene, experts say it is not worth taking the chance of wearing a skincare product with benzene.

"We have to assume that any (benzene) in sunscreen, where it should not be, that it is unsafe," Daniel said.

Valisure's report shows 27% of sunscreens it sampled -- essentially 78 products --- had up to three times the FDA-restricted limits of benzene.

"These are big name brands that a lot of families are using," Daniel said. "A lot of them were spray sunscreens."

The Valisure list shows certain Neutrogena, CVS, Banana Boat and Sun Bum products, along with other notable brands.

“Benzene is one of the most studied and concerning human carcinogens known to science. Its association with forming blood cancers in humans has been shown in numerous studies at trace levels of parts per million and below. The presence of this known human carcinogen in products widely recommended for the prevention of skin cancer and that are regularly used by adults and children is very troubling,” David Light, Founder and CEO of Valisure, said.

Daniel's suggestion, however, isn't to ditch the lotion completely, but rather, to check the list and use the products that were in the clear.

Contact Vanessa Ruffes at vruffes@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram