Do creams that contain hydroquinone cause cancer?

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Animal studies in which Hydroquinone 4 cream   was applied to the skin of rats and mice have not shown toxicity. While a few studies have found increased rates of certain cancers when rats were fed or injected with large quantities of hydroquinone many dermatologists think that these risks do not apply to people using these creams on their skin (do not eat your creams). Hydroquinone is found naturally in many foods such as berries, tea, coffee, red wine and pears.

Hydroquinone has been used all over the world for over 50 years.  It is estimated that 10-15 million tubes of creams containing this ingredient are sold in the United States alone each year, and there are over 100 medical studies describing the use of this chemical in the treatment of skin conditions.  Despite this, there is not a single report in the scientific literature of cancer resulting from the use of hydroquinone-containing creams  Based on the current scientific evidence, most dermatologists believe that short-term and intermittent (non-continuous) use of topical hydroquinone creams carries a low risk of side effects.

I’ve read that hydroquinone has been “banned” in Europe.  Is that true?

The internet seems to be full of this falsehood.  Hydroquinone is not banned from use in the European Union.  It is not available over-the-counter but can be obtained by prescription.

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