Sun block: Gender-bending chemicals that mimic oestrogen are common in sunscreens
Gender-bending chemicals that mimic the effect of oestrogen are common in sunscreens, warns a team of Swiss researchers who have found that they trigger developmental abnormalities in rats. "We need to do more tests to see how they might be affecting people," says Margaret Schlumpf from the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. Researchers know that chemicals which behave like oestrogen can cause health problems. They can have a dramatic effect on animals, for example turning fish into hermaphrodites. Some researchers claim that hormonally active chemicals from the urine of women taking the birth control pill are already swamping the environment, and may be causing a decline in sperm counts.
For the moment, she isn't advising people to ditch sunscreens completely, but suggests that sunblocks like zinc oxide might make a healthier alternative.
More at: Environmental Health Perspectives
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