Sunscreen ingredients may disrupt sperm cell function

Sunscreen ingredients may disrupt sperm cell function

Some sunscreen ingredients may disrupt sperm cell function, according to new research from the Endocrine Society.

During the summer months, it is particularly important to be aware of skin cancer risks. Nearly 5 million people in the US are treated for skin cancer annually. In the most recent statistics from the year 2006, 3.5 million cases were diagnosed in 2.2 million people.

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends prevention tips including: selecting the right sunscreen, avoid tanning beds and UV tanning beds, and covering up from the sun with clothing. It is also recommended to check yourself regularly and get examined by a doctor once a year for skin cancer.

Many of the chemicals that filter ultraviolet (UV) rays used in sunscreens disrupts the function of sperm cells. Some even mimic the effects of the female hormone progesterone.

These results are of concern and might explain in part why unexplained infertility is so prevalent,” said the study’s senior investigator, Niels Skakkebaek, MD, DMSc, a professor at the University of Copenhagen and a researcher at the Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet.

Sometimes UV blocking chemicals can be absorbed through the skin, Skakkebaek said. UV filter chemicals have been reported in human blood samples and urine samples.

Skakkebaek and his team tested the UV blocking chemicals on human sperm samples.

The scientists mainly focused on calcium signaling of sperm.

As explained in the study press release:

Movement of calcium ions within sperm cells, through calcium ion channels, plays a major role on sperm cell function, according to Skakkebaek. CatSper is a sperm-specific calcium ion channel that he said is essential for male fertility. This channel is the main sperm receptor for progesterone, a potent hormone attractant for human sperm cells. Binding of progesterone to CatSper causes a temporary influx, or surge, of calcium ions into the sperm cell, controlling several sperm functions necessary for fertilization.

The researchers found that 45 percent of the UV filtering chemicals interfered with normal sperm cell function.

Skakkebaek is calling for further studies to investigate whether the UV filters can affect fertility.

The study release also pointed out the details of which ingredients affected sperm:

Eight of the 13 UV filters that disrupted sperm cell function are approved for use in the U.S. They are avobenzone, homosalate, meradimate, octisalate (also known as octyl salicylate), octinoxate (or octyl methoxycinnamate), octocrylene, oxybenzone (also called benzophenone-3 or BP-3) and padimate O. These chemicals are common active ingredients in sunscreens as well as sunscreen-containing personal care products, such as makeup, moisturizers and lip balms.

The study showing that sunscreen ingredients may disrupt sperm cell function was published by the Endocrine Society.

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1. “Some Sunscreen Ingredients May Disrupt Sperm Cell Function.” Newswise. Endocrine Society, n.d. Web. 4 Apr. 2016.

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