According to a new study published by the JAMA Network, many of the chemicals found in sunscreen are absorbed into the bloodstream after just one day of use. The study also found that the concentration of these chemicals in the bloodstream continued to rise with each day of use. The bloodstream was found to be clear of these ingredients after a full twenty-four hours of discontinued use of the sunscreen.
The chemicals that were found to be absorbed into the bloodstream were identified as avobenzone, oxybenzone, ecamsule, and octocrylene, which are all compounds that the FDA has stated require further testing and research to verify their safety. However, even with these questionable compounds being absorbed at high levels into the bloodstream, experts state that individuals should still continue to use sunscreen regularly.
While the FDA and other researchers have confirmed the need to perform further tests on the ingredients found in most sunscreens, the complications that can arise from avoiding sunscreen use can be deadly. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is diagnosed among Americans more than every type of cancer combined. As one of the most common types of cancers, melanoma should still be actively prevented despite the possible complications of sunscreen.
Originally, sunscreen was developed and marketed as a sunburn prevention product that would be applied only on days where extensive sun exposure was expected. However, eventually the uses of sunscreen became more and more expansive, including many uses that recommended daily use and multiple applications throughout the day. As the daily use of sunscreen continued to grow, the FDA took a closer look at the chemicals found in sunscreen and their effects on the human body. However, there is still much more research that needs to be conducted.
Based on the results of a small FDA study on sunscreen, out of the four common chemicals that were found in the bloodstream, the compound oxybenzone was found to have a significantly higher concentration than the remaining three compounds. In fact, the concentration level of oxybenzone was typically 50 to 100 times higher than that of avobenzone, ecamsule, or octocrylene.
Additional studies have also proven that oxybenzone can be present in urine and breast milk. Meanwhile, there has even been a debate about the link between oxybenzone and complications including low testosterone, low birth weight, and hormonal effects. However, experts agree that further testing is needed to confirm the relation between these complications and oxybenzone. When it comes to allergic reactions, oxybenzone has been found to cause the highest number of reactions compared to other common sunscreen ingredients.
Sunscreen ingredients also pose a threat to the environment, as researchers state that oxybenzone and octinoxate are harmful to ecosystems and can bleach coral. Many Pacific nations have chosen to ban all sunscreens that include these ingredients based on their environmental effects.
While it is certain that the chemicals of sunscreen require further testing, it remains important for individuals to apply sunscreen prior to prolonged sun exposure. According to experts, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours while in the sun. However, if you’re looking to avoid the chemicals found in sunscreen, there are alternatives.
When shopping for sunscreen there are two types of sunscreen available, chemical and physical. Consumers looking to avoid chemical sunscreen will want to search for ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which act as physical protectors by sitting on the surface of your skin and deflecting the sun’s rays. This type of sunscreen is thicker than chemical sunscreen and leaves a white residue on the skin. It was these qualities that brought upon the development of chemical sunscreen, however, consumers may be making a shift back.
As consumers wait for further testing and research of the compounds in chemical sunscreens, we can only hope that the proper preventions continue to be taken to prevent skin cancer and other complications. However, it is also important to consider the possible effects of chemical sunscreen and explore other alternatives like physical sunscreen, protective clothing, and plenty of shade.
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