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Online Pharmacy And Lab Says Some Popular Sunscreen Products Contain A Known Cancer-Causing Chemical

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- With summer fast approaching, we're reminded to use sunscreen to prevent skin cancer.

But now there's word that an online pharmacy and lab has found a known cancer-causing chemical in a number of popular sunscreens, and as CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez reported Wednesday, the lab is calling for the Food and Drug Administration to issue a recall of those products.

It's that time of year -- people spending more time in the sun. But tests by Valisure, an online pharmacy and lab, show dozens of popular sunscreens and after-sun products contain a chemical tied to blood cancers.

READ MOREChemical Sunscreens Help Prevent Skin Cancer, But What Else Do They Do To A Body?

Benzene, a known carcinogen, was found in 27% of the sprays and lotions tested. That includes products sold by Neutrogena, Banana Boat, and CVS.

"The problem with benzene is it can cause leukemia, anemia, things like this," CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook said.

LaPook said the FDA will try to determine how the benzene is getting into the products.

"There is no manufacturer that's intentionally adding it to the sunscreen product. Somehow it's in there as a contaminant. It's not clear how it gets in there. Is it one of the ingredients that got contaminated?" LaPook said.

READ MOREExperts: Do-It-Yourself, Homemade Sunscreen Projects Not A Great Idea

Johnson & Johnson, maker of Neutrogena products, told CBS News, "Benzene is not an ingredient in any of our personal care products."

CVS said the products it sells are safe and, "We are in the process of reviewing and evaluating information in and related to Valisure's petition, and will respond accordingly."

And the maker of Banana Boat said, "Our sun care products undergo rigorous testing to ensure safety and quality and meet all FDA regulations."

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While no amount of benzene should be in sunscreens, it's not clear if the amount found is clinically significant or even how much might be absorbed through the skin.

Not all the products from those brands were found to contain benzene and the vast majority of sunscreens do not contain the chemical. As a former skin cancer patient, Gomez said we all still need to protect ourselves from the sun.

The FDA said it is reviewing Valisure's petition for the recall. To read the petition with a complete list of lots where benzene was detected, please click here.

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