Benzene: Substance in Sunscreen and Other Products Causes Cancer
Why are people suddenly talking about benzene? Because recently, the independent research company Valisure found this cancer-causing solvent in many sunscreens, the very products we slather all over bodies to prevent cancer. Valisure has asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to recall the benzene-containing products for two reasons:
- Because some of the sunscreens it tested contain more than allowable levels of benzene, and
- Because benzene is not necessary to making effective sunscreen, it should not be in there at all.
Let’s take a closer look at benzene and why it is dangerous to humans.
What is Benzene?
Benzene is a chemical solvent. According to the American Cancer Society (ACC), it is a colorless, flammable liquid with a sweet smell and evaporates quickly when exposed to air. Benzene is found in nature, forming after volcanoes or forest fires. Most human exposure to benzene, however, comes from its industrial use.
Benzene is a commonly used solvent in the US that is usually used to make other chemicals and substances. It is widely used to make plastics, rubber, lubricants, dyes, drugs, detergents, and pesticides. Benzene is also a byproduct of cigarette smoke, as well as crude oil and gasoline.
Benzene is, therefore, also part of car emissions or exhaust.
Many organizations have established that benzene causes cancer in humans. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Toxicology Program (NTP), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) all classify benzene as “carcinogenic to humans,” known to be a human carcinogen, and a “known human carcinogen,” respectively.
The FDA regulates the use of benzene when it is an ingredient in food, drugs, and cosmetics.
In a nutshell, the FDA allows benzene in drugs and cosmetics when it is unavoidable. However, when using benzene is unavoidable, it must be limited to 2 parts per million (ppm).
What Types of Cancer Does Benzene Cause?
Studies involving humans and animals conclude that benzene can cause cancer. Most research on the connection between benzene and cancer has focused on blood cancers.
Evidence shows a link between benzene exposure and the following cancers:
- AML – acute myeloid leukemia
- Childhood leukemia, childhood AML
- Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Blood cancers caused by benzene can affect the lymphatic system, plasma system, and bone marrow. All blood cancers adversely affect your body’s ability to fight infections.
- For people with leukemia, cancer in your bone marrow and blood causes a very fast increase in the production of abnormal white blood cells. This results in an inability to fight infection as well as an inability to produce platelets and red blood cells.
- Lymphoma involves the growth of cancer cells in your lymphatic system. Abnormal white blood cells form, and healthy lymphocytes become lymphoma, pooling in your lymph nodes and other tissues.
- Myeloma affects your white blood cells and prevents your body from producing needed antibodies.
According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), approximately 1.2 million people living in the US are either in remission or living with blood cancer. Unfortunately, someone in the US dies from blood cancer about every 9 minutes. Many blood cancers are caused by smoking, radiation, and exposure to chemicals like benzene.
Does Benzene Cause Other Health Problems?
Benzene has short and long-term effects in addition to cancer.
In the short term, breathing in benzene can cause dizziness, headaches, confusion, unconsciousness, drowsiness, and tremors. Ingesting food or water containing benzene can cause vomiting, convulsions, a rapid heartbeat, and even death. Skin exposure to benzene can result in blisters and redness. The presence of benzene in the air can also irritate the eyes and throat.
Long-term benzene exposure can cause blood disorders that are not cancerous but dangerous nonetheless.
Anemia, low platelets, and low white cell counts can occur. These can severely decrease your body’s ability to fight off infections and can lead to death.
There is also some evidence, although it is not conclusive, that long-term exposure to benzene can affect the reproductive organs of women. Research found that women exposed to benzene had irregular menstrual cycles and shrunken ovaries. It is unknown whether benzene affects a fetus or male fertility.
Can You Avoid Benzene?
Benzene is found in the air and many products, and it might be impossible to eliminate it from your life. For example, you might have a job that exposes you to benzene.
But, there are steps you can take to try to limit your exposure to benzene. For example, don’t smoke and avoid second-hand smoke as much as possible.
Try to avoid being around idling cars.
Avoid exposure to products containing benzene as much as you can. Know what is in the products you are using on your skin.
Call Our Benzene Cancer Lawyers at Alonso Krangle, LLP, If You Think Benzene Exposure caused your Cancer
If you or someone you love was exposed to benzene and diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma, call our lawyers at Alonso Krangle, LLP. You might have the legal right to collect compensation for your injuries.
Call us today at 800-403-6191 to schedule a free evaluation of your benzene cancer claim.