Multiple experts warn the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of potentially cancer-causing compounds in some sunscreens, calling for them to be removed from the market.
In a letter to the agency, the group of researchers said they had found an active ingredient called octocrylene in some sunscreens, which they said can turn into benzophenone, which can increase the risk of cancer and disrupt key hormones like estrogen, The Hill reported. Octocrylene furthermore can make the skin more fragile when applied directly.
According to the researchers, this chemical is capable of absorbing UV rays while also maintaining avobenzone, another chemical in sunscreen, making it an acceptable ingredient for the product despite “the risks associated with its own instability and decomposition to the carcinogen benzophenone.”
As of April, there had been more than 2,400 SPF products with such concerning ingredients; some were even popular brands like Coppertone, Banana Boat, and Neutrogena, the team alleged, according to The New York Post.
While the FDA had voiced that it would “take seriously any safety concerns raised about products we regulate, including sunscreen,” this discovery is another strike to the sunscreen market this year.
Last month, Johnson & Johnson notified the recall of five sunscreen products, including four from Neutrogena and one from Aveeno, after low quantities of benzene, another probable carcinogen, were detected in them.
The products taken off the shelf included Aveeno Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen and four Neutrogena sunscreens: Beach Defense aerosol sunscreen, CoolDry Sport aerosol sunscreen, Invisible Daily Defense aerosol sunscreen, and UltraSheer aerosol sunscreen.
The New York Post said that professional alerts of these products came out in May, but the company’s recall had been exceptionally slow, which took place two months later. J&J is now facing a class-action lawsuit for its indolent behavior.
The data about octocrylene levels have been deemed deceptive by an industry trade association. Still, the team said a rebuttal to the industry’s argument would be published in the scientific journal Chemical Research in Toxicology on Wednesday, August 11, the outlet revealed.
The rebuttal shows the correlation between the sunscreen industry’s defense strategies to those used by big tobacco to argue the benefits of smoking.