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J Clin Pharm Ther. 2019 Feb;44(1):134-139. doi: 10.1111/jcpt.12778. Epub 2018 Nov 28.

Sunscreen bans: Coral reefs and skin cancer.

Author information

1
University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, Tucson, Arizona.
2
Temple University School of Pharmacy, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
3
Neumentum, Inc., Palo Alto, California.
4
NEMA Research, Inc., Naples, Florida.
5
Kitzen Pharmaceutical Consulting, Collegeville, Pennsylvania.

Abstract

WHAT IS KNOWN AND OBJECTIVE:

Hawaii will ban two major ingredients of sunscreens. This article reviews the reasons and future directions. Hawaii recently enacted legislation that will ban the use of two major ingredients of the majority of commonly used sunscreens. The reason for the ban is the ingredients' putative deleterious impact on marine ecosystems, particularly coral reefs. But sunscreens also save lives by decreasing the risk of UV-induced skin cancers. We review both sides of the issue and potential implications for the healthcare system.

COMMENT:

Coral reefs consist of organisms in delicate equilibria that are susceptible to small changes in their surroundings. Recent natural and man-made disruptions, direct or indirect, such as changes in ocean temperature and chemistry, ingress of invasive species, pathogens, pollution and deleterious fishing practices, have been blamed for the poor health, or even the outright destruction, of some coral reefs. The most popular sunscreen products contain two ingredients-oxybenzone and octinoxate-that have also been implicated in coral toxicity and will be banned. This creates a healthcare dilemma: Will the protection of coral reefs result in an increase in human skin cancers?

WHAT IS NEW AND CONCLUSION:

Concentration estimates and mechanism studies support an association-direct or indirect (via promotion of viral infection)-of sunscreens with bleaching of coral reefs. A ban on the two most common sunscreen ingredients goes into effect in Hawaii on January 1, 2021. Proponents suggest that this is a trend, just the first of many such bans worldwide; opponents warn of a dire increase in human skin cancers. As a result, alternative sunscreen compounds are being sought.

KEYWORDS:

coral reef; octinoxate; oxybenzone; skin cancer; sunscreen

PMID:
30484882
DOI:
10.1111/jcpt.12778
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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