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Sunscreen Scare: Can Your Aerosol Sunscreen Cause Cancer?

Most people know that too much time in the sun can cause skin cancer, and that sunscreen is one of the best ways to protect yourself and prevent harm to your skin and body. What most people don’t know is that wearing the wrong kind of sunscreen can actually increase your risk – not because of the sun, but because of a chemical called benzene, which has recently been found to be present in several major brands of sunscreen and after-sun care products. While this may come as a surprise, it’s important to be knowledgeable about what benzene is, which sunscreens may be contaminated, and what you can do to protect yourself.

What is the Link Between Sun Exposure and Cancer?

Some people don’t realize that frequent or extended exposure to the sun may cause skin cancer due to the ultraviolet radiation, also known as UV radiation, that is present in sunlight. Like any type of radiation, UV radiation has the potential to cause cancer when you are exposed to large quantities, or even if you are exposed to small quantities for long periods of time. Skin cancer, or melanoma, is the most common type of cancer linked to UV radiation.

Any type of sun exposure at any point in your life can increase your risk for melanoma, especially extended exposure as a child or an older adult. Having a “base tan” does not decrease your risk for cancer, though it may decrease your risk for sunburn. However, you do not need to get a sunburn to develop skin cancer as a result of sun exposure.

What is Benzene?

Benzene is a cancer-causing chemical or carcinogen, that can create problems in humans even in very small doses. While the sun typically causes skin cancer, exposure to the carcinogen benzene can cause blood tissue cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma. Benzene is dangerous even in very small amounts such as less than one part per million, especially when considering how much sunscreen is used when applying it to your whole body.

Studies have proven that sunscreen, when applied to the skin, is absorbed in large quantities and many of the chemicals end up in the bloodstream. Experts agree that no amount of benzene, no matter how small, can be considered safe to use in a product intended to be used by humans.

Which Brands of Sunscreen Contain Benzene?

Unfortunately, many major brands of sunscreen, both aerosol sunscreen, and lotion, have been found to contain some amount of benzene. These brands include Neutrogena, Aveeno, Coppertone, CVS Health, and Walgreens, among others. While these brands may still prevent skin cancers such as melanoma, the tradeoff may be deadly. While melanomas may be removed from the skin before they spread, cancers such as leukemia are harder to detect and treat.

However, not every product from these brands contains benzene. Many aerosol sunscreens appear to contain benzene, while some lotion sunscreens do not. Before purchasing or using any sunscreen, make sure to investigate the brand and product to be safe.

Should I Stop Using Sunscreen?

Using sunscreen or other methods to protect your skin is important when you are going to spend an extended amount of time in the sun. Just because some sunscreens may contain benzene does not mean you should stop protecting your skin. If you choose not to use sunscreen, you should make sure that when you go outside you are wearing protective clothing such as long sleeves, a hat, or pants.

You should also look for shade to stand or sit in it if you are going to be spending an extended amount of time outside. This could be a porch awning, an umbrella, or even a nearby tree. You can also research sunscreens to find those that do not contain benzene and use those. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you are still protecting yourself from the sun to reduce your risk of skin cancer.

What Do I Do if I’ve Used These Sunscreens?

Many people are unaware of the dangers of the sunscreens they are using, but there are courses of action that you can take if you’ve been using a sunscreen with benzene in it. Your first step should be to stop using sunscreen and find a brand that does not contain benzene. The sooner you discontinue the use of sunscreens containing the harmful chemical, the lower your risk of cancer.

If you have used a sunscreen that contains benzene and you have developed cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma, you may be eligible to join a class-action lawsuit against the company that manufactured the sunscreen you used.





How Will a Class Action Lawsuit Help Me?

Joining a class-action lawsuit will not only help you but will help others who have been affected by the brands of sunscreen that contain benzene. By joining a class-action lawsuit, you can get recompense for the harm done to you by the company, which typically includes a sum of money awarded to you that can be used to help with medical or other bills if you are in a bad financial situation due to your cancer diagnosis. Others in the same or similar position will also be helped in the same way.

Joining a class action lawsuit is as easy as speaking to a lawyer and finding out which lawsuits may be best for your situation. A lawyer can help you understand what course of action you should take in order to join a class-action lawsuit and will take care of the legal matters involved such as organizing and presenting the case.


If you have used sunscreen containing benzene and you have not yet developed cancer, you should stop using that sunscreen now and seek out other forms of sun protection, including other brands of sunscreen. If you have developed cancers such as myeloma or leukemia, and you discover you have been using sunscreens containing benzene, you should talk to a lawyer about the potential for joining a class action lawsuit in order to obtain your rightful compensation for the situation caused by this company.

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