Cancer-Causing Benzine Found in Sunscreen

Benzene, sunscreen, cancer, carcinogen, carcinogenic, cancer-causing, leukaemia, Therapeutic Drugs Administration, TGA, medicine, compounding, compounding pharmacy, personalised medicine, petrochemical, fuel, safety, contamination.

Just last week (28 April 2022), Australia’s Therapeutic Drugs Administration (TGA) issued an urgent recall for six popular brands of sunscreen due to concerns over unacceptable levels of a known cancer-causing compound found in these products.

The agency has warned that more products may be added to the list in coming weeks as their investigations continue into how the contamination happened.

The known carcinogen, benzene, was found in a batch of raw material used in the manufacture of a number of sunscreen products including:

ProductBatch Number
Cancer Council Sensitive Sunscreen SPF50+ 110mL (Tube)1103178
Cancer Council Sensitive Sunscreen SPF50+ 200mL (Pump)1099751
NIVEA Sun Protect & Moisture SPF30 Lotion 200ml
SPF30 lotion batch: 12640440-BN  
NIVEA Sun Protect & Moisture SPF50+ Roll On 65ml  SPF50+ roll on batch: 12669940BN
Bondi Sands SPF 50+ Lotion Spray Coconut Beach 200ml  104263, 1104743 and 1104264
Baby Bum Mineral SPF50+ Lotion 88mLN1118B and N1118C

The TGA advises that anyone who has purchased these products (with the affected batch numbers) should immediately return the product to the place of purchase and contact the manufacturer.  Contact details for each manufacturer are available on the TGA website.

What is Benzene?

Benzene is an elementary petrochemical derived from crude oil. It is primarily used in the manufacture of other chemicals. Benzene is recognised as a carcinogen that, with prolonged exposure, increases the risk of certain cancers, bone marrow failure and a range of other illnesses including leukaemia and cardiovascular disease.

In 1948 the American Petroleum Institute (API) stated,”….it is generally considered that the only absolutely safe concentration for benzene is zero.”

Modern humans are regularly exposed to benzene through gasoline and hydrocarbon fuels, and very low levels of exposure for short periods of time is considered a comparatively low health risk.

In Australia benzene levels must be below 2 parts per million (ppm) in all sunscreen products.

Addressing the recall, the TGA says, “Although exposure at the levels detected would not be expected to cause serious adverse health effects, and risks to users are considered low, the sunscreens are being recalled to ensure consumer safety.”

How did Benzene Get Into Sunscreen?

Benzene is not an ingredient that is normally added to sunscreen and so the TGA has launched an investigation into the contamination. It’s believed that a raw ingredient batch used in all the sunscreens on the list above, was inadvertently contaminated with benzene during the manufacturing process.

According to the TGA website: “It (benzene) has been detected in one batch of a raw material used in the manufacture of a number of products and the TGA is working with affected companies to confirm if benzene is present in their medicines and if it is, how much is there.”

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Note from National Custom Compounding: At National Custom Compounding we make all our products from scratch using only the highest quality ingredients that have been rigorously and regularly tested for purity and safety. Our testing and safety protocols go well beyond those regulated by the government.

We do not engage in mass production – each product that comes from our laboratory has been individually, custom-made for the client, to their exact specifications, so our customers know exactly what they’re getting – no nasty surprises.

For more information on how we can make safe, effective and personalised medications and other products for you, contact us on 1300 731 755 or [email protected]

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