High levels of sunscreen ingredients end up in the bloodstream, study shows

Sunscreen enters bloodstream within a day study finds

Sunscreen enters bloodstream within a day study finds

A new study conducted by the United States Food and Drug Administration found several common sunscreen ingredients can enter the bloodstream at unsafe levels after just one day of use.

Participants applied one of either a lotion-sunscreen, cream-sunscreen or two sprays, four times a day for four days on areas of the body uncovered by their swimwear.

Previous research has suggested that sunscreen ingredients can enter the bloodstream, and have even been detected in breast milk.

Sunscreen is supposed to protect people from risky overexposure to the sun's rays but some types might be doing more harm than good.

Here's a good reason to wear sun-protective clothing this summer or stick to the shade: The FDA has determined that some of the active ingredients in sunscreens are absorbed into your system through your skin, as reported in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) today. The study was titled, "Effect of sunscreen application under maximal use conditions on plasma concentration of sunscreen active ingredients: a randomized clinical trial".

The research conducted by America's Food and Drug Administration found that blood concentration continued to rise during the day - and remained in the body for up to 24 hours.

The FDA has previously included those four chemicals on a list of ingredients that need to be researched further before they can be considered generally safe and effective.

The study found maximum plasma levels of the chemicals it tested for - avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene and, in one sunscreen, ecamsule - to be well above the level of 0.5 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) at which FDA guidelines call for further safety testing.

However, researchers emphasize, people should not stop using sunscreen. According to this latest study, these four ingredients in question have a higher than the 0.5 ng/mL absorption in blood.

"Rather, this finding calls for further testing to determine the safety of that ingredient for repeated use", said a statement by Woodcock and Michele on the FDA's website.

"The study was conducted inside, without exposure to light, heat, humidity, or swimming - factors that can lead sunscreen ingredients to degrade on the skin or be washed or sweated away", Geraghty noted. The team collected 30 blood samples over 7 days from each of the participants.

For example, the maximum concentration of avobenzone was found to be 4 ng/mL and 3.4 ng/mL for two different sprays, 4.3 ng/mL for a lotion and 1.8 ng/mL for the cream.

David Andrews, senior scientist at The Environmental Working Group said: "Looking through the results tables of the study, one thing about oxybenzone stood out". Faber, who was not involved in the work, adds that "this study is the FDA's [Food and Drug Administration's] way of showing sunscreen manufacturers they need to do the studies to see if chemical absorption poses health risks". Hawaii has since then banned the use of oxybenzone and octinoxate in sunscreens because it could damage the marine ecosystem and bleach the corals.

However, the Personal Care Products Council trade association said that the study had limitations and expressed concern that it might confuse consumers.

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