Sunscreen Products And Their Effect On Serum Testosterone
It is no surprise that the previous generations were healthier as compared to ours. With the passage of time, the changes in lifestyle have put our health on stake especially the habits that many have picked, to avoid exposure to sun. People nowadays seek minimal exposure to sun with lots of protective lotion on their body to block the so called harmful rays.
A European study suggests that being exposed to sun on a regular basis may lower the chances of developing skin cancer. The sunscreen products that people so desperately use these days are too dangerous to even rub on the skin. The chemicals present in these products disrupt the endocrine system. Given below are the chemicals that are commonly found in the sunscreen lotions. It is noteworthy that many of these products are known to adversely affect the serum testosterone levels.
- Benzophenones (BP-1, BP-2, BP-3)
- Octyl-methoxycinnamate (UV-B filter)
- Octyl-dimethyl-PABA (UV filter)
- Parabens (methyl, butyl, propyl)
- 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC; UV filter)
These agents improve the permeability into the skin and act as UV stabilizers. An in-vitro study revealed that BP-1 lowers the levels of testosterone and suppresses the androgenic activity. An in-vitro study on humans suggested that BP-2 lowers the testosterone levels in testicular cells. It also affects the thyroid levels. A study conducted by Dr. Peter Dingle also revealed similar findings. Another study showed that the metabolites of BP-3 were found as xenoestrogenic (or anti-testerone) in the human cells that were cultured. In short, these agents inhibit the binding of dihydrotestosterone to its receptors and are anti-androgenic in nature. Since their lipophilic characteristics are very weak, benzophenones can easily penetrate through the skin. Hence their absorption is fairly fast.
In-vitro and in-vivo studies have showed that 4-MBC is a xenoestrogen and it elevates the serum estrogen levels by triggering the estrogenic receptors. Laboratory study conducted on rodents revealed that 4-MBC elevates the TSH levels and reduces the levels of T3 and T4 (like that in hypothyroidism). It is noteworthy that suppression of thyroid gland’s activity also adversely affects the testosterone levels.
These agents are widely employed as preservatives. They are also present in shampoos, soaps, skin moisturizers and sunscreens. They are categorized as xenoestrogen even when their estrogenic response is comparably weak. Their estrogenic activity and potency strengthens with the addition of alkyl groups. Therefore, butylparaben has dominant effects than methylparaben. Despite being a weak xenoestrogens, these chemicals are more harmful as they accumulate within the fatty tissues upon persistent use. Some studies have showed that they can reduce testosterone production by causing mitochondrial dysfunction within the responsible cells.
It has weak estrogenic properties and it tends to disrupt the endocrine system, however the potency is low.
A rat based study suggested that this compound is toxic on doses that are available in the sunscreen lotions. However, another study suggested that in humans, the absorption of this chemical is not adequate. It also exhibits estrogenic response when studied on animals and cultured human cells.
A study based on cultured human cells showed that Homosolate caused endocrine disruption. Its byproduct was also studied to have weak estrogenic response. An in-vitro studied declared it as antiandrogenic agent. Evidence suggests that its products are far more toxic. Homosolate has good permeability to human skin.
Sunscreens are chemical packed enemies to the endocrine and therefore should not be used at all.
- Gandhi, A., Busse, K. L., & Maibach, H. I. (2014). Dermal Estradiol and Testosterone Transfer in Man: Existence, Models, and Strategies for Prevention. In Topical Drug Bioavailability, Bioequivalence, and Penetration (pp. 331-350). Springer New York.
- Yap, F. H., Chua, H. C., & Tait, C. P. (2017). Active sunscreen ingredients in Australia. Australasian Journal of Dermatology.
- Aniansson, B., Veierød, M. B., Rylander, C., Lund, E., & Sandanger, T. M. (2016). Characterization of heavy users of skin care products among Norwegian women from 2003 to 2011. Archives of Public Health, 74(1), 53.