Common Acne Treatment Ingredient Linked to Cancer-Causing Chemical: What You Need to Know


Recent investigations by an independent laboratory, Valisure, have exposed alarming levels of benzene, a known carcinogen, in popular acne treatment products. Urgent action is needed as major brands like Clearasil, Proactiv, and Clinique are implicated. The FDA faces a crucial decision following Valisure’s petition for the recall of benzoyl peroxide-containing products.

Valisure’s thorough testing of 66 benzoyl peroxide acne treatment products, including creams, lotions, gels, and washes, revealed disturbingly high benzene levels. Clearasil, Proactiv, Target’s Up & Up, and Clinique were among the brands found to exceed FDA limits by hundreds of times.

FDA Limits vs. Reality

The FDA allows up to 2 parts per million (ppm) of benzene in regulated drug products. Shockingly, Valisure found benzene levels exceeding 800 times the limit when products were stored at 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Even when on the shelf, benzene levels were up to nine times the FDA limit.

Inhalation Risk and Air Contamination

The danger extends beyond product storage. Valisure’s report indicates benzene escaping product packages, posing an inhalation risk. Airborne benzene levels reached a staggering 1,270 times the EPA threshold in certain cases, emphasizing the urgent need for regulatory intervention.

Industry Response and Real-world Conditions

Clearasil’s parent company, Reckitt, asserts product safety when used as directed, challenging Valisure’s findings as reflective of unrealistic scenarios. The FDA is yet to comment on Valisure’s petition.

Unprecedented Nature of Benzene Formation

What sets this revelation apart is that benzene in acne products originates from benzoyl peroxide itself, not impurities. This critical distinction demands swift regulatory action to protect consumers.

Dermatologists’ Concerns

Dermatologists, including Dr. Christopher Bunick from Yale University School of Medicine, express deep concern. Benzoyl peroxide breakdown into benzene poses both topical and inhalation risks, prompting discussions on the safety of widely-used acne treatments.

The Call for Action

With millions using benzoyl peroxide products, this discovery necessitates immediate action. Valisure’s petition seeks a market withdrawal and FDA investigation, emphasizing the urgency of addressing this unprecedented threat.

In conclusion, the benzene revelation in acne products demands swift regulatory response to ensure consumer safety. The FDA’s actions in the coming days will play a crucial role in mitigating the potential health risks associated with widely-used acne treatments.


  1. Bloomberg – Chemical linked to cancer found in acne creams
  2. Valisure – Detects benzene in benzoyl peroxide
  3. Valisure Citizen Petition on benzene in benzoyl peroxide drug products
  4. [Dr. Christopher Bunick – Carcinogen benzene in acne products containing benzoyl peroxide](Reference not available)
  5. Valisure – Detects benzene in sunscreen
  6. FDA – Bayer recalls Lotrimin and Tinactin spray products
  7. FDA – P&G recalls old spice and secret aerosol spray antiperspirants
  8. [FDA – Unilever recalls select dry shampoos](Reference not available)
  9. Am J Respir Crit Care Med – Long Term Exposure to Ambient Benzene and Mortality

Note: This article is based on the provided sources and does not constitute medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional for personalized guidance.

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