Popular Sunscreens May Interfere With Sperm Cell Functioning

Many types and brands of sunscreens used to prevent the effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays may negatively affect the functioning of human sperm cells and also encourage effects similar to those exhibited by female hormone progesterone, latest report indicates.

The Endocrine Society recently made public a study that shows connection between popular sunscreens in the market and functioning of the human sperm. The study suggests that prolonged use of sunscreen by men interferes with the way sperm cells work and also comes with symptoms similar to those characterized by using progesterone, a female hormone.

According to Niels Skakkebaek, MD, DMSc, senior study researcher at Copenhagen University Hospital, and professor at Copenhagen University, the latest findings may explain why some men who regularly use sunscreen exhibit low levels of fertility and an increase in the female hormone progesterone.  Sunscreens

The goal of sunscreen is to prevent the negative effects of UV rays from the sun and it works by creating a filter or block. By absorbing and minimizing most of the UV rays, the skin is protected against the damaging effects which can lead to skin patches, reddening, rashes, and in worst cases skin cancer.

Over time however, the active ingredients penetrate deeper into the skin and are absorbed into the bloodstreams where they remain for a long time. The active compounds interfere with the chemical composition of the male sperm cell and may lower the rate of production or even stimulate production of more progesterone.

Skakkebaek and his team studied a group of men based in Denmark, US, European Union as well as other countries and focused on 29 of the 31 most popular sunscreens permitted in the US and Europe .

The goal was to assess calcium signaling within the sperm cells due to changes in calcium ion concentration. Calcium ion plays a leading function in the activeness and mobility of sperm cells, and more active ones are found to have higher concentration. Of the many calcium ions, the researchers paid close attention to a specific type known CatSper which is vital in male fertility.

Live human sperm cells were sourced from healthy donors and were put in a buffer environment that was similar to the female fallopian tubes. In addition to verifying activity and mobility, the researchers also looked at progesterone which attracts the sperm cells.

A look at the final statistics reveals that 45% of UV filters caused an influx of calcium ions, while 13 of 29 sunscreens activated the CatSper channel. This led to a drop of fertility due to interference on the sperm cell functioning.