Unseen danger: Sunscreen chemical’s secret journey into your bloodstream
Do you trust your sunscreen?
We love sunbathing. Not just for vitamin D. Oh, feeling the sunlight on our bodies is like a Prozac. That’s literally true. Vitamin D deficiency affects our mental and physical health.
For this reason, we must go outside for midday sunlight. First of all, vitamin D is vital to bone health (no evidence for drinking milk). Without it, the body can’t absorb the calcium it ingests.
The basic: we get ultraviolet B (UVB) energy from the Sun’s rays. Then, our skin uses it to start making vitamin D.
According to Harward, “under the right circumstances,” 10 to 15 minutes of Sun on the arms and legs a few times a week can generate nearly all the vitamin D we need. However, what are the right circumstances? Many things, like the season, clouds, where you live, pollution, skin color, age, and sunscreen, can influence vitamin D production.
While the Sun is the source of vitamin D, its rays can lead to skin problems (even cancer). That’s why thousands of sunscreen brands on the market say they protect us from these harmful rays.
However, according to the latest research, sunscreen chemicals can be absorbed in the bloodstream. FDA shared a clinical trial testing results of four of the most common Sun-filtering molecules.
They could harm people when the sunscreen chemicals are absorbed in the bloodstream. However, are they safe for our reproductive system, hormones, or else? We need more research to answer this question.
UV-blocking chemicals are absorbed into the bloodstream, but there’s not enough evidence that they harm the body.
Theresa Michele, director of the FDA’s Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drugs Branch and co-author of this FDA-funded study, and her team found that sunscreen chemicals are absorbed into the bloodstream within just a few hours of application. If the FDA detects in a study that the concentration above the poisoning threshold is rising rapidly, it introduces more safety tests. Unfortunately, the team found this level high in the sunscreen research.
The researchers experimented on 24 people (12 men and 12 women) and got the same result. They were randomly assigned to apply one of four commercially available sunscreens—two sprays, a lotion, and a cream.
Subjects applied sunscreen to 75 percent of their body four times a day for four days. The researchers then drew blood from the subjects every few hours to analyze avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and ecamsul values. UV-blocking chemicals were found to activate within only a few hours, and high levels persisted in three out of four formulations by the study’s end. Besides, they observed that those who used only creams cleared out their concentrations fastest.
However, no need to be freaked out about sunscreens yet.“”There might be nothing, and that would be great, but the problem is that we just don’t know.” said Kanade Shinkai, a dermatologist at UC San Francisco and editor-in-chief of JAMA Dermatology.
Still, the Sun may cause skin problems, but scientists know far less about sunscreen chemicals’ relative risks and benefits. We highly suggest reading product ingredients well, using a hat & sunglasses, and drinking water.
Happy sunny days without any harmful rays.