Oxybenzone and Sunscreens: A Critical Review of the Evidence and a Plan for Discussion with Patients
There has been recent extensive controversy concerning potential environmental and health hazards of oxybenzone (also known as benzophenone-3 and Eusolex 4360). Although there has been widespread related media attention, there is little definitive scientific research supporting the associated concerns. Given these controversies, it is critical that dermatologists have a clear understanding of the underlying issues related to oxybenzone in order to effectively counsel their patients. The purpose of this article is to provide dermatologists with a framework for presenting this issue to patients. Within, we address questions such as: 1) Is oxybenzone the reason for coral bleaching? 2) Is there data to suggest that oxybenzone is harmful to humans? 3) Why is oxybenzone used in the majority of US sunscreens? and 4) Are there other potential problems with oxybenzone restrictions that could lead to more skin cancer in the future? After a careful review of the evidence, we conclude that, in our opinion, there is little definitive scientific research supporting the associated concerns and that before this evidence exists, given the benefits of oxybenzone-containing sunscreens in skin cancer prevention, this ban is premature. Banning an ingredient commonly used in most sunscreens may lead to confusion among consumers and have the untoward outcome of less sunscreen being used overall.
Bever L. Hawaii just banned your favorite sunscreen to protect its coral reefs. Washington Post. Jul 6, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/07/02/hawaii-is-about-to-ban-your-favorite-sunscreen-to-protect-its-coral-reefs/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.d3a78b2ef2b1. Accessed Jul 11, 2018.
Danovaro R, Bongiorni L, Corinaldesi C, et al. Sunscreens cause coral bleaching by promoting viral infections. Environ Health Perspect. 2008;116(4):441-7.
Downs CA, Kramarsky-winter E, Segal R, et al. Toxicopathological Effects of the Sunscreen UV Filter, Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3), on Coral Planulae and Cultured Primary Cells and Its Environmental Contamination in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2016;70(2):265-88.
Rodgers KS, Bahr KD, Jokiel PL, Richards donà A. Patterns of bleaching and mortality following widespread warming events in 2014 and 2015 at the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Hawai'i. PeerJ. 2017;5:e3355.
Hughes TP, Kerry JT, Baird AH, et al. Global warming transforms coral reef assemblages. Nature. 2018;556(7702):492-496.
Bruno JF, Valdivia A. Coral reef degradation is not correlated with local human population density. Sci Rep. 2016;6:29778.
Hayden CG, Roberts MS, Benson HA. Systemic absorption of sunscreen after topical application. Lancet. 1997;350(9081):863-4.
Hayden CG, Cross SE, Anderson C, Saunders NA, Roberts MS. Sunscreen penetration of human skin and related keratinocyte toxicity after topical application. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2005;18(4):170-4.
Schlumpf M, Cotton B, Conscience M, Haller V, Steinmann B, Lichtensteiger W. In vitro and in vivo estrogenicity of UV screens. Environ Health Perspect. 2001;109(3):239-44.
Wang SQ, Burnett ME, Lim HW. Safety of oxybenzone: putting numbers into perspective. Arch Dermatol. 2011;147(7):865-6.
Janjua NR, Mogensen B, Andersson AM, et al. Systemic absorption of the sunscreens benzophenone-3, octyl-methoxycinnamate, and 3-(4-methyl-benzylidene) camphor after whole-body topical application and reproductive hormone levels in humans. J Invest Dermatol. 2004;123(1):57-61.
Agin PP, Ruble K, Hermansky SJ, Mccarthy TJ. Rates of allergic sensitization and irritation to oxybenzone-containing sunscreen products: a quantitative meta-analysis of 64 exaggerated use studies. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2008;24(4):211-7.
Warshaw EM, Wang MZ, Maibach HI, et al. Patch test reactions associated with sunscreen products and the importance of testing to an expanded series: retrospective analysis of North American Contact Dermatitis Group data, 2001 to 2010. Dermatitis. 2013;24(4):176-82.
Mancuso JB, Maruthi R, Wang SQ, Lim HW. Sunscreens: An Update. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2017;18(5):643-50.
Ghiasvand R, Weiderpass E, Green AC, Lund E, Veierød MB. Sunscreen Use and Subsequent Melanoma Risk: A Population-Based Cohort Study. J Clin Oncol. 2016;34(33):3976-3983.
Teplitz RW, Glazer AM, Svoboda RM, Rigel DS. Trends in US sunscreen formulations: Impact of increasing spray usage. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2018;78(1):187-18
Kong BY, Sheu SL, Kundu RV. Assessment of Consumer Knowledge of New Sunscreen Labels. JAMA Dermatol. 2015;151(9):1028-30.
Glazer AM, Svoboda RM, Teplitz RW, et al. Overcoming Consumer Challenges in Sunscreen Selection. SKIN – J Cutan Med. 2018;2(3):168-171.
Schneider SL, Lim HW. Review of environmental effects of oxybenzone and other sunscreen active ingredients. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2018;
Abstract - 2558 Full Article PDF - 635
- There are currently no refbacks.