What Sunscreen are you using?

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Soccer is an outdoor sport. Therefore, soccer players are subject to all environmental conditions. Most importantly, soccer players have to put up with the sun. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation is very beneficial for kids and adults. However, excessive amounts of UV radiation can have harmful effects. For this reason protection from the UV radation is strongly recommended. For soccer players who cannot be under shade and cannot adjust their clothing (which is subject to strict requirements),  the protection comes from the application of sunscreens.

Sunscreens come in two kinds: physical (which are based on natural minerals) and chemical (which are based on the advances of nanoscience). The former works as a `mirror’ which reflects the UV radiation; the latter as an absorber converting it to non-harmful radiation (heat).

Infographic about sunscreens by the American Academy of Dermatology
Infographic about sunscreens by the American Academy of Dermatology.

During the past decades the use of sunscreens has skyrocketed. In particular, the vast majority of people are using chemical sunscreens since physical sunscreens create a white layer on the skin surface which many find unattractive. FDA classifies the physical sunscreens as safe.  However, it has expressed a concern for chemical sunscreens. Simply said, there is not enough research on the effects of the chemical ingredients on the human body.  Even more, current data point out that people should use chemical sunscreens with caution and suspicion. In the following, we report some of these data.

It is known that oxybenzone (which is in two-thirds of all chemical sunscreens) is the most common cause of contact allergies. A 10-year study (from 2001 to 2010) found that 70% of people had a positive patch test when exposed to it (see https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23857015).

In 2008, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed urine samples collected by a government study and found oxybenzone in 97% of the samples. Another analysis of breast milk samples found oxybenzone or other sunscreen chemicals in 85% of the samples (see https://doi.org/10.2533/chimia.2008.345).

Other studies have indicated:  a possible connection between oxybenzone and lower testosterone levels in adolescent boys (see https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/ehp150); hormone changes in men (see https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15191542);  shorter pregnancies and disrupted birth weights in babies (see https://doi.org/10.1016/j.reprotox.2017.08.015); disruptions of endocrine systems (see https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4997468/).

A recently released study (see https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2733085) on the most common chemical incredients of avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and ecamsule found that it takes only a day of use for the ingredients to enter the bloondstream at levels which are high enough. It also found that their concentration increased as the use increased and, finally, the chemicals remained in the body one day after the sunscreen use had stopped.

In addition to possible human physiological effects, oxybenzone and octinoxate  cause coral bleaching and are dangerous to marine ecosystems.  Hawaii and Key West, FL  recently banned sunscreens containing them.

As a result of the elevated concern, in February, the FDA called manufacturers to do safety investigations of 12 commonly used sunscreen chemicals.

Episkyros, LLC  has a deep commitment to natural and organic practices as a way to protect the youth. Hence, given the current state of knowledge, we side with The Environment Working Group which recommends choosing a mineral sunscreen containing titanium dioxide and zinc oxide when possible.

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