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Boca Raton doctor recommends mineral sunscreens amid concerns about cancer-causing chemical

Recent report claims traces of benzene found in 78 sunscreens
Posted at 4:33 AM, Jun 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-17 04:33:19-04

BOCA RATON, Fla. — A recent report calls on the Food and Drug Administration to recall certain sunscreens after a cancer-causing chemical was found in them.

Valisure tested nearly 300 sunscreens and discovered that 78 of them contain a chemical called benzene.

"Benzene is known to harm the bone marrow and long exposure can lead to blood cancer, such as leukemia," Dr. Michael Kasper said.

Kasper, who specializes in radiation oncology with the Lynn Cancer Institute at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, said it's not clear how or why the benzene is there, but it is alarming.

Dr. Michael Kasper speaks about benzene in sunscreens
"To put it in context, benzene is found in cigarette smoke," Dr. Michael Kasper, with the Lynn Cancer Institute at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, says.

"To put it in context, benzene is found in cigarette smoke," he said.

Kasper said anyone worried about applying sunscreen should try to avoid the chemical-based ones that are easily absorbed into the skin. Instead, he said, find mineral sunscreen.

Cetaphil mineral sunscreen poolside recommended instead of chemical-based sunscreen
Dr. Michael Kasper with the Lynn Cancer Institute at Boca Raton Regional Hospital recommends mineral sunscreens like Cetaphil instead of chemical-based ones.

"Mineral sunscreens sit on top of the skin," Kasper said. "They don't get absorbed."

Valisure has sent its report to the FDA to investigate and recall the sunscreens found with benzene.

Topping the list of 78 sunscreens were name brands like Neutrogena, CVS and Banana Boat.

Twenty different Neutrogena sunscreens had traces of benzene. The company told WPTV in a statement that it doesn't use benzene in its products and is investigating the claims.

Fourteen sunscreens from CVS also had traces of benzene. CVS said it is working to ensure its products are safe.

Nine sunscreens from Banana Boat were found to have benzene in them. The company could not be reached for comment.

Sandy Chasan, who is co-owner of Jamie's Convenience Store in Delray Beach, said sunscreen is hard to keep on the shelf there being so close to the beach.

Banana Boat and Hawaiian Tropic sunscreens on display at Jamie's Convenience Store
Banana Boat and Hawaiian Tropic sunscreens adorn the shelves at Jamie's Convenience Store in Delray Beach.

"We sell out almost every single day," she said.

Chasan said it's a necessity in the Florida sunshine.

"People come in and they're like, 'I can't believe I came to Florida without my sunscreen,'" she said.

That's why she hopes the FDA and sunscreen companies take whatever actions are necessary to make sunscreen safe.

"Of course, we want the quality of our sunscreen we sell (to be) high quality, you know, that's healthy for the people, healthy for the environment," she said.