POTENTIALLY harmful chemicals in sun cream seep through the skin and into the bloodstream, a study found.
Experts warn more research is needed to establish if they could cause cancer, harm fertility or stunt development.
The US Food and Drug Administration tested four sun creams on 24 healthy volunteers four times a day for four days.
They also took 30 blood samples from each participant over the course of a week to check exposure to the chemicals.
They found levels of the substances in the blood breached the limit at which toxicology tests are required.
But the effect of these concentrations is unknown.
More research needed
Dr David Strauss, from the FDA, said: “The systemic absorption of sunscreen ingredients supports the need for further studies to determine the clinical significance of these findings.
“These results do not indicate that individuals should refrain from the use of sunscreen.”
The chemicals – or active ingredients – examined were avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene and ecamsule.
Critics say most users would apply less cream than that used in the study and they urged people to continue to use it.
'Keep using sunscreen'
Dr Andrew Birnie, from the British Association of Dermatologists, said: “Sunscreen has been used for a number of decades and there has not been any data that suggests users come to harm.
“We agree with the researchers that people should not make the knee-jerk decision to stop using sunscreen.
“Skin cancer is the UK’s most common cancer, equalling all other cancers combined. The link between excess sun exposure and skin cancer is well documented and indisputable.
“This research on sunscreen is very much at an early stage. The first line of defence against the sun should be shade and clothing, with sunscreen used for additional protection.”
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The trial was conducted indoors, without exposure to heat, sunlight or humidity, which may affect the rate of absorption.
And it was not designed to look at differences in absorption by the type of sunscreen formulation, skin type or age of the user.
The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
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