How chemical sunscreens might cause more harm than good…
We know that overexposure to ultraviolet rays can damage our skin and even cause skin cancer. So we turn to sunscreen in an effort to protect ourselves from the sun. But what if the majority of sunscreens sold on the market today actually cause more harm than good?
Enter oxybenzone. In a lineup of several chemicals found in most sunscreens, oxybenzone stands out as the most toxic of them all. And because this chemical and others are absorbed by our bodies and “can be measured in blood, breast milk and urine samples” (Environmental Working Group, EWG), this should at least be a cause for concern.
How harmful is oxybenzone? According to EWG, the chemical may mimic hormones in the human body and cause sunscreen-related skin allergies. Researchers at EWG cite two specific studies which detail the hormone-meddling claims: First, oxybenzone has been found to cause “weak estrogen and potent anti-androgenic effects” in lab studies (Kraus 2012). And second, American children (boys) with higher oxybenzone exposure had “significantly lower testosterone levels” than those with little-to-no exposure to the chemical (Scinicariello 2016).
It’s worth stating, however, that most of the data on the harmful effects of oxybenzone come by way of animal studies. Therefore, it is yet inconclusive just how potent and dangerous this and other sunscreen chemicals really are for humans.
Some researchers argue the potential risks of toxic exposure most certainly outweighs any benefit that comes from (chemical-based) sunscreen protection. Others believe further research must be conducted on our skin and its relation to the sun and sunscreen, and that we should continue to use sunscreen to protect ourselves until scientists come to conclusive answers on the specific and measurable dangers.
In other words, the jury is still out on this one. But for the sake of you and your family’s health, continue to take necessary precautions in protecting yourself from harmful UV rays, and be mindful when it comes to sun exposure.