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Sunscreen Chemicals Linked to Male Infertility

A recently published study has shown that certain chemicals used in sunscreens to protect against ultraviolet (UV) rays can impair a man's ability to father children. Earlier research findings from the same Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment (LIFE) Study have linked reduced fertility to high cholesterol levels in women and couples and to high concentrations of phthalates and Bisphenol A (BPA) in men.

Now this study adds to a growing list of chemicals used in everyday products that affect not only our environment, but human health too (which is logical since human health is critically dependent on environmental health). This study is released just in time too, since many in Canada will be heading south over the next couple weeks to soak up the sun during the holiday season. Here is more incentive to choose natural alternatives, or better yet stay in the shade (and just top up on vitamin D with just a few minutes daily of sun exposure).

Benzophenone (BP)-type UV filters are a class of approximately 29 common chemicals used in sunscreens and other personal care products to protect skin and hair from sun damage (among other purposes). Upon being absorbed by the skin, some of these chemicals can interfere with the body’s endocrine (hormone) system.

The researchers behind this study found that men with high exposure to a couple of these BP-type UV filter had a 30% reduction in fecundity, the biological ability to reproduce. Lower fecundity may result in a longer time to pregnancy.

“In our study, male fecundity seems to be more susceptible to these chemicals than female fecundity. The women participants actually had greater exposure to the UV filters overall [since it's also found in makeup and hair care products], but their exposure wasn’t associated with any significant pregnancy delays,” said a lead researcher. “Our next step is to figure out how these particular chemicals may be affecting couple fecundity or time to pregnancy—whether it’s by diminishing sperm quality or inhibiting reproduction some other way.”

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Source: Urinary Concentrations of Benzophenone-Type Ultraviolet Radiation Filters and Couples' Fecundity

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