sodium benzoate and vitamin c

Hi, I have read that when sodium benzoate and vitamin c combine they can cause carcinogens. Is this true? Could you apply them at different times and it be ok? For example, I use a retinol serum with sodium benzoate in it at night and then apply a sunscreen with vitamin c in it in the morning. Is this a problem?

Comments

  • We answered this question back in Episode 153. Here's what we said:

    Let’s start by explaining a bit about the benzene controversy. Benzene, which is a 6 carbon ring, has been proven to be carcinogenic. The benzene can come from benzoates which are used as preservatives.

    Specifically, “The benzene forms from decarboxylation of the preservative benzoic acid in the presence of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and metal ions (iron and copper) that act as catalysts, especially under heat and light.” The FDA sets limits on how much benzene can be drinking water and other beverages. They looked into this and found that most products are below the safe limit which is 5ppb but they did find a couple of soft drinks that had higher levels.

    The soft drink industry has responded by removing benzoates to a large extent although there are still products that use them. That’s enough background because this is not the Beverage Brains podcast.

    What does all this mean for Vitamin C creams? It doesn’t seem like this a problem in skin products for two reasons. First, benzene is a much greater health concern if you’re ingesting it which was the issue in the case of the benzene in soft drinks.

    Second, the product she mentions also contains EDTA which chelates metal ions and reduces the chances of benzene formation.Ref: http://www.icba-net.org/files/resources/icba-benzene-guidance-english.pdf

    I would expect that your chances of getting cancer from using a vitamin C cream that converts a benzoate preservative to benzene, are WAY lower than your chances of getting cancer from smoking or drinking or eating grilled meats.

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