This New Study on Sunscreen Chemicals Will Surprise You

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Summer is just around the corner, which means it’s time to replenish your sunscreen stockpile. Before you hit the store, however, you’re going to want to see the results of a new study on the health risks of common sunscreen ingredients.

A new study published in JAMA and conducted by the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research found that the blood concentration of four of the ingredients found in sunscreen continued to rise as daily use of the product continued. These ingredients were also found to remain in the body for at least 24 hours after using the sunscreen.

photo: Ashley K Little via Pexels

The study did not look at the health impact this absorption has if any, on users––only that it occurs. The study points to the need for more research on the impact of these specific ingredients once they are absorbed into the body.

Four ingredients were tested: avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and ecamsule. Out of these, oxybenzone stood out above the rest with an absorption rate of “about 50 to 100 times higher concentration than any of these other three chemicals they tested,” according to David Andrews, a senior scientist at the EWG.

photo: iStock

Previous studies have shown a potential link between oxybenzone and lower testosterone levels in adolescent boys and shorter pregnancies and disrupted birth weights in babies. Oxybenzone is also known to be one of the most common cause of contact allergies. The ingredient has also been banned in several parts of the world due to the fact that it can cause coral bleaching and pose a danger to marine life when it’s introduced into the ocean.

So does this mean you should stop using sunscreen? No. Instead, consumers should more vigilant about reading labels and researching the ingredients in the sunscreens they use. Check out our detailed list of sunscreens here, many of which contain safer ingredients.

The American Academy of Dermatology urges people to apply at least one ounce of sunscreen to all exposed skin every two hours or after swimming. In addition, you should always talk to a board-certified dermatologist if you are concerned about the safety of a sunscreen’s ingredients.

“Studies need to be performed to evaluate this finding and determine whether there are true medical implications to absorption of certain ingredients,” said Yale School of Medicine dermatologist Dr. David Leffell, a spokesman for the American Academy of Dermatology. He added that in the meantime, people should “continue to be aggressive about sun protection.”

—Shahrzad Warkentin

featured image: quinono via Pixabay



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