THE LINK BETWEEN CHEMICAL SUNSCREENS
AND HIRSCHSPRUNG'S DISEASE

By Iris Planting - January 2,2020

The fact that chemicals used in sunscreen do more harm than good is nothing new. It is the reason why several countries and regions such as Palau and Hawaii, but also Aruba, Key West, and Bonaire have already banned certain chemicals used in sunscreen in order to save the corals and the sea life. Read here which chemicals in sunscreen you should avoid.

Side Effects of Chemicals in Sunscreen For The Human Body

It has come to light that chemicals in sunscreen are not only harmful to the planet, but also to ourselves. Chemical UV-filters like Oxybenzone can be detected in the human bloodstream even after a single application and may disrupt the human sperm cell function. Research articles from both the BBC and NCBI have found that chemical sunscreen can cause problems for pregnant women and their children as well. The authors have found Oxybenzone to be in breast milk, through the mother using chemical sunscreen. There’s more reasons why chemicals in sunscreen have been found to be dangerous for pregnant women. Recent studies from Haereticus amongst others, link chemicals such as Oxybenzone to a digestive birth defect called Hirschsprung Disease.

What is Hirschsprung’s Disease?

Hirschsprung’s Disease is a birth defect in which nerve cells are missing at the end of a child’s bowel. It causes the colon to be enlarged, whilst the rectum is shrunken. This can be extremely risky for the child and surgery needs to be done in order to solve the problem. See the picture below to understand the effect of Hirschsprung’s disease: 

The Link Between Oxybenzone And Hirschsprung’s Disease

The research conducted by Haereticus Lab urges pregnant women to avoid Oxybenzone, because of the increased chance of the fetus getting Hirschsprung’s disease. The authors even warn women trying to conceive to stay away from the chemical sunscreen, since Oxybenzone can stay in the system weeks after having used products containing the chemical.

This paper is based on other studies conducted to find the link between Oxybenzone and Hirschsprung’s disease. One of these researches found high levels of oxybenzone in the urine of pregnant women whose babies had gotten Hirschsprung’s disease. This shows how deep Oxybenzone reaches into the system and how long it stays in your body. Joe Dinardo, one of the researchers of the article from Heareticus, explains how Oxybenzone could increase the risk of having Hirschsprung’s disease:

“A pregnant woman who follows the instructions for the recommended use of sunscreen products containing 6% oxybenzone (two 1-ounce application of sunscreen) could have concentrations of oxybenzone and fetal blood levels reach as high as 3,800 part per billion in the woman, and 384 parts per billion in the fetus. These concentrations of oxybenzone can potentially cause these toxic cellular changes, and give rise to Hirschsprung’s Disease.”

Adding to these findings, environmental health educator Lana Adler states the following:

“[…] Fetal development is an incredibly sensitive process that can be altered with the introduction of endocrine disrupting chemicals like oxybenzone. […] especially pregnant women and mothers should avoid all products with oxybenzone, and should instead seek out natural, organic skincare that does not rely on chemicals like these.[…]”  

Ensuring the safety of the your baby only adds to the list of reasons why you should pick a mineral sunscreen. Mineral and natural sunscreens also offer broad-spectrum and SPF protection. Have a look around on our blog to read more about how to choose a safe sunscreen and have a look at the mineral sunscreens in our shop!

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about the author

Hi there! I’m Iris, a 23 year old cheese-head from the Netherlands. I love spending my time outdoors; going on a long hike, travelling the world or just enjoying a beer in the sun. You’ll usually find me with a book in my hand or making friends with the horses/cows/sheep/goats that I meet during my walks.