It’s now getting ready to enter summer, we have wonderful weather, we are having days out and making the most of the sun. It’s been something of a heatwave here in England and so everyone wants to make the most of the sunshine. As we know at any time, it could feel like winter again over here! We have a tendency to have poor summers, so when it glorious, we excitedly get ourselves out in the sun. Most of us will be precautious and so out come the lashings of sunscreen. We endlessly smear our children in it as we attempt to keep them safe. In the last 10 years or so we’ve had a barrage of fear mongering over the dangers of the sun and links to skin cancer. These in turn have exacerbated our panic that our children should coated in sunscreen. What if what we were putting on our children was the real danger to their health? In today’s look into controversial chemicals in cosmetics, we probe a little deeper into oxybenzone. Used in many sunscreen formulations, it is reported by Environmental Working Group (EWG) to be one of the most harmful ingredients out there. Their danger rating of the chemical is 8 out of 10, which makes it an incredible concern. To be fair, there are some who argue against this, yet the well respected EWG is just one of an ever growing number of voices to raise severe concerns over oxybenzone.

Oxybenzone was approved for use in 1978 and was regarded as safely offering broad spectrum protection from UV radiation. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permit its use on children above 6 months old. The American Academy of Dermatology support the FDA in their evaluation. Oxybenzone’s main function is to absorb ultra violet light, yet evidence has found that the chemical is absorbed through the skin. EWG report that oxybenzone can be found in nearly every American, has been detected in mother’s milk and that lab studies have found the substance to be between 1% and 9% skin penetrable. Wissing S.A. & Muller, R.H. (2002) compared skin penetration of oxybenzone between solid lipid nanoparticles (SLN) and conventional oil and water emulsion formulations and concluded that oxybenzone was found to penetrate the skin quicker and to a greater extent, via emulsion formulation. The rate of release could be found to decrease from 30%-60% in SLN formulations. The role of the formulation has also found to be important in other studies. Viscosity could be found to decrease the penetration of the alkaloid berberine through rat skin during a study performed by Tsai et al (1999).   In a study using a 2% oxybenzone sunscreen which included metabolites, participants were found to excrete the chemical in their urine (Hayden et al, 1997). Potter et al (1999) supported these findings also.

Wang et al (2011) dispute the dangers of oxybenzone and suggest that for a human to absorb the same amount as the rats used in studies, they would have to cover their bodies in the formulation every day for 34 and a half years. This does alleviate concerns on face value but as oxybenzone has be detected in 96% of US urine samples as well as 85% of Swiss milk samples (Krause et al 2012), it appears well evidenced there is accumulation. How it reacts with the cocktail of other chemical toxins in the body is also unknown. Studies have shown that oxybenzone metabolites (chemicals the body makes from oxybenzone in an attempt to expel it) do impact thyroid function enough for it to warrant further indepth studies (Schmutzler et al., 2007b, Schlecht et al., 2004, Schmutzler et al., 2004, 2007b, Maerkel et al., 2007, Axelstad et al., 2011, Klammer et al., 2007). Furthermore, studies have found oxybenzone metabolites to exhibit estrogenic activity: (Schlumpf et al.,2001b, 2004a; Schreurs et al., 2002, 2005; Gomez et al., 2005; Kunz et al., 2006), progesterone activity (Schruers et al 2005) and anti-androgen activity (Dingle, 2009, Krause et al, 2012, Ghazipura et al 2017). We know from research we have provided for our previous articles, that when chemicals mimic estrogen in the body, they can lead to or accelerate the development of cancer also. Another disturbing factor of oxybenzone is mothers who had high levels of the chemical in their bodies, were more likely to give birth to underweight babies (Wolff, 2008). The condition has been found to be a pivotal factor in coronary heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and other diseases which may manifest in adulthood (Lau 2004).

Rodriguez (2006) was to conclude that oxybenzone may cause allergic skin reactions such as dermatitis. Cell damage may also be caused by its use, as when sunlight reacts with oxybenzone, free radical chemicals are formed, 2 of 3 studies suggested (Allen, 1996; Serpone, 2002 and Hanson, 2006). Cell damage to skin opens the door to the possibilities of skin cancer developing!

The amount of concerns which have been raised in studies is beyond belief. We highly recommend checking your sunscreen products to ensure that this chemical is not present. Why we still use such chemicals after such mountainous evidence is beyond us. Long term studies are desperately needed for many areas which have come to arise in this article but as there are alternatives available, just don’t bother putting this on your skin. Oxybenzone alone has the potential to create so many problems. How it reacts to all the other chemicals we struggle to keep out of us on a daily basis, who knows? We may not escape every chemical but we can attempt to limit our exposure to as many as possible. This is certainly one that can be avoided. We never fail to be stunned by the wealth of information we come across doing research for these articles and this one didn’t fail us there either. We hope that you will continue your own research into this toxin. EWG are a great place to start for a generalised look and the references points we and they list will enable you to take a deeper look into what is going on also.

An informed mind is an educated mind and we have never had the possibilities open to us today, to seek information. Ignorance is very much a key factor in misery and death. It is your job to educate yourself and your families on the dangers that are out there for us all. We can do something about it, it just requires some effort. By boycotting products and companies, which include controversial ingredients you make a stance. Hitting them in their pockets is the only way to get a change in the industry. Check all the labels you can on produce you buy, it can really help the ones you love and yourself. Anything you buy to put on your children’s skin or hair should be checked vigorously, to ensure you are not inadvertently poisoning them!

Until next time, keep healthy and toxin free, we will be back with more soon.

References

https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/the-trouble-with-sunscreen-chemicals/#.Ww0f5O4vzIU
https://edition.cnn.com/2012/05/16/health/sunscreen-report/index.html
https://www.ewg.org/research/cdc-americans-carry-body-burden-toxic-sunscreen-chemical#.Ww1N8u4vzIU

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