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J Invest Dermatol. 2004 Jul;123(1):57-61.

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.

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Department of Dermatology, Bispebjerg Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Recent in vitro and animal studies have reported estrogen-like activity of chemicals used in sunscreen preparations. We investigated whether the three sunscreens benzophenone-3 (BP-3), octyl-methoxycinnamate (OMC), and 3-(4-methylbenzylidene) camphor (4-MBC) were absorbed and influenced endogenous reproductive hormone levels in humans after topical application. In this 2-wk single-blinded study 32 healthy volunteers, 15 young males and 17 postmenopausal females, were assigned to daily whole-body topical application of 2 mg per cm(2) of basic cream formulation without (week 1) and with (week 2) the three sunscreens at 10% (wt/wt) of each. Maximum plasma concentrations were 200 ng per mL BP-3, 20 ng per mL 4-MBC, and 10 ng per mL OMC for females and 300 ng per mL BP-3, 20 ng per mL 4-MBC, and 20 ng per mL OMC for men. All three sunscreens were detectable in urine. The reproductive hormones FSH, LH were unchanged but minor differences in testosterone levels were observed between the 2 wk. A minor difference in serum estradiol and inhibin B levels were observed in men only. These differences in hormone levels were not related to sunscreen exposure.

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