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Oxybenzone

Posted by Erum Ilyas on
Oxybenzone
What happens next? 
To continue the sunscreen conversation as it evolves daily with our patients, the next most common question we have been asked is : if chemical sunscreens are absorbed into our bloodstream, what happens next? How are they impacting our health?
The reason that these sunscreens are still widely available is simply that we do not have enough information to know if they actually have a negative impact on our health from absorption.  We do know that they have a positive effect on our health by reducing the incidence of skin cancer. This is important to understand.
Companies that use chemical sunscreens are only using them because they are far more cosmetically acceptable to use- they do not tend to leave that whitish residue on our skin.  The goal is skin cancer prevention.
 
To help our patients understand better what potential impact each ingredient can have we will post each week about each ingredient and the information available to help make better choices.  
This week we will review Oxybenzone.  Oxybenzone is added to products to absorb UVB and some UVA rays.  
From a health perspective, did you know that :
  • Oxybenzone was found in the urine of 97% of people tested
  • Oxybenzone can react with chlorine in swimming pools to create potentially toxic compounds
  • Oxybenzone may act as an endocrine disruptor
From an environmental perspective, did you know that :
  • Oxybenzone has been found in waterways worldwide 
  • Oxybenzone has been shown to be toxic to coral and fish impacting marine life
What does “endocrine disruption” mean?  We hear this term a lot when it comes to chemical sunscreens. It basically means that these sunscreens can look like estrogen, one of the main female hormones, to our bodies and have similar effects. 
They can also block the effects of androgen, one of the main male hormones. Some chemical sunscreens can also affect our stress response system referred to as the HPA axis (hypothalamic pituitary axis).
 
 
Oxybenzone was found in 42% of the sunscreens found in local stores in our area by our research team last summer.  
There are still limited studies to truly understand what the implications of finding this sunscreen in urine and in waterways means overall.  However, we have so many options to choose from, it’s reasonable to consider looking for products that choose other ingredients.  
It is always important to limit our exposure overall to these products by limiting the amount needed.  Choose hats, sunglasses and sun safe clothing to protect larger surface areas of your skin to minimize the need for sunscreen products.

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