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Is benzoyl peroxide mutagenic/able to cause skin cancer?

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I wasn't sure what forum this belongs in but since the regimen contains benzoyl peroxide i posted this here

i came across this article: that explained how benzoyl peroxide may be very harmful to the skin in the long run.

is this true? Any opinions on this?


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(The following article was written by willow569 and I am posting it here with her permission.)

Benzoyl Peroxide Safety

Q: Is there a link between benzoyl peroxide and skin cancer?

1. Currently, no research has found a link between benzoyl peroxide use and skin cancer in humans. Two studies that investigated the link between benzoyl peroxide and skin cancer in people found no increased risk of skin cancer in people who had used benzoyl peroxide to treat acne. 1 2

2. After conducting a series of studies and a doing a comprehensive review of the existing research on the link between benzoyl peroxide and skin cancer, one researcher concluded that "no epidemiological evidence exists of a carcinogenic effect of skin treatment with BPO containing gels or ointments in 5 or 10% concentrations. 3 Other experts have concluded that topical benzoyl peroxide is considered to be a safe treatment for acne and that there is no current evidence to indicate that it poses a carcinogenic or toxicological risk to humans. 4 5

3. Research studies have used cancer-sensitive strains of mice to study the effects of benzoyl peroxide on tumor growth. The mice in these studies are generally pre-exposed to UV radiation or a chemical that causes the development of the tumors; then the benzoyl peroxide is applied to the mouse skin. Some of these studies have found that benzoyl peroxide caused existing tumors on the skin to grow larger, but did not cause the development of new tumors. 6 In the vast majority of studies, benzoyl peroxide was not found to cause new tumors to develop. These mouse studies are often cited on websites that are trying to sell alternatives to benzoyl peroxide as evidence that benzoyl peroxide is a carcinogen. The results of the studies and their implications may be overstated and misinterpreted by these companies.

4. One article highlights the limitations of this line of research in mice for the application to safety assessment for humans: 7

o The mice used in the research are of a particularly sensitive strain--mice specifically bred to be susceptible to developing tumors.

o There are significant physiological differences between mouse and human skin.

o Other substances that are tumor promoters in mice are not linked to cancer in humans, even with long-term exposure.

o The tumor promotion is only seen under certain specific experimental conditions.

o How benzoyl peroxide is used in these studies differs considerably from how it is used in the treatment of acne and very strong BPO concentrations are often used. Studies using commercial formulations of benzoyl peroxide do not generally find the same tumor promoting effect in mice.

5. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists benzoyl peroxide as a category III substance (safety uncertain). However, the FDA concerns were not so extreme as to lead them to recommend discontinuing the use of benzoyl peroxide medications. 9 The FDA has called for additional research on the carcinogenic potential of benzoyl peroxide. According to the FDA, this research is currently being conducted.

6. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which classifies substances based on carcinogenicity, has concluded that there is inadequate evidence for the carcinogenicity of benzoyl peroxide in humans and limited evidence in experimental animals for the carcinogenicity of benzoyl peroxide. The IARC does not categorize benzoyl peroxide as being carcinogenic; its carcinogenicity is labeled as being unknown. 10


  1. Cartwright, R.A., Hughes, B.R., Cunliffe WJ (1988). Malignant melanoma, benzoyl peroxide and acne: a pilot epidemiological case-control investigation. Br J Dermatol, 118(2):239-42.
  2. Hogan, D.J., To, T., Wilson, E.R., Miller, A.B., Robson, D., Holfeld, K., Lane, P. (1991). A study of acne treatments as risk factors for skin cancer of the head and neck. Br J Dermatol. 125(4):343-8.
  3. Iverson, O.H. (1994). Benzoyl peroxide and possible skin cancer risks in mice and humans. In Skin Cancer: Mechanisms and Human Relevance, CrC Series in Dermatology, (Mukhtar, H., Ed.) pgs 13-20.
  4. Zbinden, G. (1988). Scientific opinion on the carcinogenic risk due to topical administration of benzoyl peroxide for the treatment of acne vulgaris. Pharmacol Toxicol, 63: 307.
  5. Liden, S., Lindelof,B.,& Sparen, P. (1990). Is benzoyl peroxide carcinogenic? Br J Dermatol., 123(1):129-30.
  6. O'Connell, J.F., Klein-Szanto, A.J., DiGiovanni, D.M., Fries, J.W., Slaga, T.J. (1986). Enhanced malignant progression of mouse skin tumors by the free-radical generator benzoyl peroxide. Cancer Res. 46(6): 2863-2865.
  7. Kraus, A.L., Munro, I.C., Orr, J.C., Binder, R.L., LeBoeuf, R.A., Williams, G.M. (1995). Benzoyl peroxide: an integrated human safety assessment for carcinogenicity. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 21(1):87-107.
  8. Iverson, O.H. (1988). Skin tumorigenesis and carcinogenesis studies with 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene, ultraviolet light, benzoyl peroxide (Panoxyl gel 5%) and ointment gel. Carcinogenesis. 9(5):803-9.
  9. http://www.fda.gov/cder/otcmonographs/Acne...PR_19950217.pdf
  10. http://www.inchem.org/documents/iarc/vol71...nzoylperox.html

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yea, think about it...i was kinda worrying about the samething but...

people arent stupid... doctors and the fda wouldnt let companIES sell something taht would cause skin cancer....

i think BP weakens and makes skin thinner that uv rays might be dangerouse to our skin..

so wear sunscreen

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as already mentioned, there is no evidence that it causes cancer in humans.

However, it IS a free radical producing agent. This means your skin may not heal as fast and will most likely age more quickly. I suppose it varies from person to person and I'd like to think that adding moisturizer and a healthy diet could help combat this side effect.

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