At a cursory glance, sodium benzoate doesn’t seem that harmful. It is found naturally occurring in many plants, such as cranberries.
But check your skin care labels. When added to any form of vitamin C, of which there are many in lotions, the two ingredients form benzene. And benzene is a carcinogenic.
Even when isolated from vitamin C, it may not be that benign. Professor Piper, of Sheffield University, UK, studied this substance and found that it can damage cells. He tested benzoate on yeast cells (which are similar to human ones) and found that it caused an increase in the production of free radicals. A free radical is an unbounded oxygen molecule that can wreak havoc on your body. ripping other cells apart. The study found that benzoate attacks the cells’ mitochondria, damaging their ability to prevent oxygen leaks that cause these radicals to enter your body.