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Oxybenzone Effects on Hormones

By Georgia Collings

Once again we are looking at a new study which reveals the potential dangers of exposure to common UV filter, oxybenzone.

The study from the Department of Environmental Health Sciences et al, describes in length the quite shocking effects sunscreen active ingredient oxybenzone has on hormonal production and mammary gland development in mice.

The mice were exposed to low levels of oxybenzone at key developmental phases in utero and during infancy, and the outcome was quite devastating for the mice, leaving them with lifelong hormonal and fertility issues.

An extract from the study states, “during development, exposures of mice to oxybenzone, a common UV filter, environmental pollutant and endocrine disruptor, induce alterations in mammary [cells].”

Oxybenzone has been a known endocrine, or hormonal, disruptor for quite some time, but these studies used relatively high doses of the potent chemical. This new study used low doses, and saw the same hormonal disruption.

“These results provide additional evidence that even low doses of oxybenzone can disrupt hormone sensitive outcomes in the mammary gland when exposures occur during critical windows of development, and some of these effects manifest in later life.” - Matouskova et al.

This is just one more thing we can add to the long list of reasons oxybenzone isn’t safe. Despite the fact that it’s used in more than half the sunscreen sold worldwide, this petro-chemical is not ideal for human use, and even the Food and Drug administration has declared that it is not regarded as safe or effective for human use. Yet we still find it in most of our sunscreens.

It is certainly a potent UV filter, particularly against UVB rays which burn and damage skin, however it poses its own risks due to the fact that it is absorbed so readily by our bodies. This study, and many others discussed in previous posts, reveal more and more information about what is really happening as our sunscreen soaks in. Endocrine disruptor? Check. Unsafe for babies? Check. Phototoxin in corals and seagrass? Absolutely. So why are we still using it?

There are so many viable alternatives, even more effective options, when it comes to sun protection. Natural (mineral) sunscreens are the best way to protect your skin, body and the environment. These are sunscreens with no chemicals, just high concentrations of the natural UV filter, non-nano zinc oxide. This mineral is naturally occurring in the body, in the ocean and in most living things. Therefore zinc oxide is entirely reef safe, as well as not causing damage to hormonal systems.

Making the switch to a mineral sunscreen is simple, and more people need to do it as soon as possible.

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