Cancer-Causing Chemical Found in Common Acne Products, Lab Says


If you buy your acne treatment products from the drugstore, you might want to double-check which products you have in your medicine cabinet. Scientists at the Valisure laboratory in Connecticut say they found the cancer-causing chemical benzene in some acne products from popular brands like Clinique and Clearasil. 

According to Reuters, Valisure filed a petition with the Food and Drug Administration to recall the products and conduct a thorough investigation before allowing them back on shelves. In addition to Clinique and Clearasil products, the researchers also found “unacceptably high levels” of benzene in other products including Proactiv, PanOxyl, Walgreens brand acne soap bars, Target’s Up & Up treatments, and Walmart’s Equate Beauty acne cream. 

Prescription and over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide is used by people when treating acne. Valisure’s tests discovered that some of these products can contain more than 800 times the FDA’s concentration limit for benzene. The compound’s ties to cancer have long been documented in scientific studies examining workers who spend their lives around it. 

Companies like Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson have already recalled several of their products including sunscreens, hand sanitizers, and dry shampoo after the carcinogen was found in those products. By contrast, the detection of benzene in the acne treatment products was “substantially different” from this case. “The benzene we found in sunscreens and other consumer products were impurities that came from contaminated ingredients; however, the benzene in benzoyl peroxide products is coming from the benzoyl peroxide itself,” Valisure president David Light said. 

Consult your doctor if you’re unsure about continuing to use acne treatment products. 

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