NEW YORK, NY (CBS) – Sunscreen. It’s just another thing to add to the list of products that could be affecting human fertility.
According to new research from the New York State Health Department and the National Institutes of Health, certain chemicals used in sunscreen might impair men’s ability to produce children.
Twenty-nine chemicals make up a class of commonly used substances called benzophenone (BP)-type ultraviolet (UV) filers that are commonly used in products to protect skin and hair from sun damage.
But some of these chemicals, researchers say, can interfere with the body’s horomones and endocrine system processes.
According to the NIH study, men with high exposure to UV filters BP-2 or 4OH-BP experienced 30-percent reduced fertility.
Scientists looked at 501 couples trying to conceive as part of the Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment (LIFE) study. Participants were from 16 counties in Michigan and Texas between 2005 and 2009. Female subjects were from 18 to 44 years old, while the men were all over 18. None of the people involved had a medical diagnosis of infertility. Scientists then followed the couples until they were able to conceive or for up to a year and tested their urine samples for concentrations of five UV filters reportedly associated with endocrine-disrupting activity.
They found that some, but not all, filters resulted in reduced fecundity in men.
“In our study, male fecundity seems to be more susceptible to these chemicals than female fecundity. The women participants actually had greater exposure to the UV filters overall, but their exposure wasn’t associated with any significant pregnancy delays,” explained Germaine Louis, Ph.D., director of the Division of Intramural Population Health Research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, on the NIH website. “Our next step is to figure out how these particular chemicals may be affecting couple fecundity or time to pregnancy—whether it’s by diminishing sperm quality or inhibiting reproduction some other way.”
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