A new study shows that some of the chemical ‘filters’ of sunscreen affect sperm function.
Sunscreens contain substances that prevent UV radiation from reaching the skin. However, many of these widely used chemicals affect the function of sperm cells. Some, according to a new study, mimic the action of the female hormone progesterone.
“The study’s findings are of concern and may to some extent explain the frequent occurrence of infertility with an undefined etiology,” said lead researcher Niels Skakkebaek, a professor at the University of Copenhagen.
The purpose of these chemical “filters” is to absorb UV rays, preventing them from penetrating the skin. However, the same chemicals are rapidly absorbed by the skin, as shown by their detection in blood samples and in 95% of urine samples taken in the US, Denmark and other countries.
Skakkebaek’s team tested 29 of the 31 substances approved in Europe and America and found that 13 of them facilitated the massive influx of calcium ions into the sperm cells, affecting their function. “Their action starts already in very small quantities, less than the amount of substances that corresponds to full sunscreen application,”Skakkebaek said. In addition, 9 of these 13 chemical “filters” were found to mimic the action of progesterone, which makes them endocrine disrupters.
The professor called for clinical studies to investigate whether UV-absorbing chemicals affect male fertility and added that the results of the study suggest that the competent control authorities should be more careful before giving their approval for the specific substances. Some of these “filters” used in sunscreen, at least in the US, are avobenzone, homosalate, meradimate, octisalate, octinoxate, octocrylene, oxybenzone and padimate O.