One of my last posts pointed to the hazards associated with the use of sunscreens, including some propensity to increased skin cancer risk. Some people have commented that chemicals found in sunscreens might have a direct toxic and cancer-inducing effect in the body. I don’t disagree with this idea at all – it’s certainly plausible.
I came across this report today, which is about a study which assessed the association between the ‘benzophenone-type’ sunscreen ingredients and ‘endometriosis’. This condition is characterised by the finding of womb lining tissue (endometrium) outside the womb such as in the pelvis or fallopian tubes. It can be a painful condition, and can contribute to infertility.
Endometriosis is believed to be driven by the hormone oestrogen. Now, while benzophenone-type chemicals are helpful in terms of preventing sunburn, they also mimic the effects of oestrogen in the body. In this study, it was found that women with the highest levels of one particular benzophenone-type chemical were at 65 per cent increased risk of endometriosis compared to those with the lowest levels.
This sort of ‘epidemiological’ study does not prove that these chemicals cause endometriosis, but it might cause us to pause and think about the potential for chemicals in suncreens (and other skincare products) to cause harm. Of some concern here, is that oestrogen does not just drive endometriosis, but certain cancers too, including breast cancer.