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Chemicals in Your Sunscreen May Cause Infertility: Study

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Chemicals that are found in cosmetics, such as shampoo, sunscreen, moisturizer and the like, may lead to infertility in men, new research suggests.

The preliminary study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Health's Wadsworth Center in New York reveals that benzophenone (BP) type ultraviolet (UV) filters, which include about 29 chemicals, are found in sunscreens as well as other cosmetic products.

The NIH explains that when the skin absorbs the sunscreen, the chemicals may affect a person's endocrinal and hormonal processes, which in turn may affect a man's chances of fathering a child.

Researchers discovered that men, who were highly exposed to UV filters 4OH-BP or BP-2, had a 30 percent decline in fecundity, which is the biological capability of a person to reproduce. The scientists suggest that lower fecundity in men can result in a longer time period for their partner to get pregnant.

Germaine Louis, director of the Division of Intramural Population Health Research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, suggests that male fecundity was more vulnerable when compared to female fecundity. The study found that women used sunscreens more and had a higher contact rate with the UV filters when compared to men. However, women's exposure to the associated chemicals in the UV filters did not show any significant delays in pregnancy.

"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," says Louis.

Experts claim that skin cancer cases are on the rise and that the melanoma rate has tripled in the last three decades. Louis points out that it is very important for both men and women to take proper care of their skin. Using sunscreen is an important way to get protection from the sun and people should continue using them to escape skin cancer.

However, men who are worried about fertility and trying to father a child should also try alternatives for reducing chemical exposure from UV filters. Men in this category should try to cut down on other cosmetic products that expose them to BP UV filters and should also wash their skin properly when they return indoors.

The researchers suggest that it is just a preliminary study and further research is required before the findings can be confirmed.

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