Yale dermatologist weighs in on J&J sunscreen recalls, preferred types to protect skin

Health

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The FDA realizes that sunscreen use is critical to public health, saying melanoma continues to be on the rise, with most cases caused by excessive sun exposure. Johnson and Johnson recently announced a voluntary recall of five spray sunscreen products under the Neutrogena and Aveeno brands.

RELATED: Johnson & Johnson recalling sunscreens due to traces of benzene, cancer-causing chemical

The affected products, packaged in aerosol cans, are Aveeno Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen, and four Neutrogena sunscreen versions: Beach Defense aerosol sunscreen, CoolDry Sport aerosol sunscreen, Invisible Daily Defense aerosol sunscreen, and UltraSheer aerosol sunscreen.

Research by New Haven-based Valisure evaluated sunscreens and after sun products, revealing varying levels of the carcinogen benzene in some.

Benzene can be ingested through breathing in, and through the skin making its way into the bloodstream.

“Benzyne is not something we want to see in any of the products we use. It’s a known carcinogen; it can increase the risk of leukemia and other cancers. It’s not something that we want in our bodies,” says Dr. Michael Girardi, Yale Medicine Dermatologist

Dr. Girardi’s concern is that a product like sunscreen needs to be applied frequently, throughout the day outside, which can lead to an accumulation of benzene.

“You’re not going to find this reading the ingredients label. It’s not listed anywhere because it’s not allowed. So this is really a contamination process and something that needs to be looked at in terms of how these products are synthesized,” says Dr. Girardi.

He prefers sunscreens that do not have oxybenzone or avobenzone on their ingredient list.

“I would preferentially reach for the so-called chemical-free sunscreens These are the ones that contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as their primary ingredient.”

J&J said it’s working to get all lots of the five products removed from store shelves. It urged consumers to stop using the sunscreens immediately and said customers can get a refund by calling J&J’s Consumer Care Center at 1-800-458-1673. More information is available at the websites for Neutrogena and Aveeno.

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