Study Evaluates Link Between Sunscreen Ingredients And Endometriosis
May 10, 2012

Study Evaluates Link Between Sunscreen Ingredients And Endometriosis

Connie K. Ho for

Researchers have found that there is a possible link between sunscreen ingredients and endometriosis. In a joint study by the Wadsworth Center of the New York State Department of Health and the State University of New York at Albany, researchers saw that particular ingredients in sunscreen produced effects similar to the female sex hormone estrogen and demonstrated a higher increase risk of being diagnosed with endometriosis. Endometriosis is a condition where uterine tissue grows outside of the tissue; the report is the first to highlight the connection between sunscreen with BP-like ingredients and endometriosis.

The study was published in a recent issue of Environment Science and Technology, which is affiliated with the American Chemical Society (ACS). The ACS is a nonprofit organization under the U.S. Congress. The journal includes news and features in the areas of environmental science, technology, and policy.

In the report, Kurunthachalam Kannan and his team of researchers discussed how sunscreen and other products that have benzophenone (BP)-type ingredients could possibly block harmful ultraviolent rays that are emitted from the sun. They found that small traces of BP could move from the skin into the bloodstream. When it´s absorbed into the blood, it could have effects similar to estrogen; endometriosis needs estrogen in order to develop and can be found in one out of ten women of reproductive age.

With the experiment, scientists looked at BP levels in the urine of 625 women who underwent surgery for endometriosis. High levels of 2,4OH-BP were connected to a greater chance of endometriosis diagnosis. They also found that women tended to have higher BP levels during the summer and if they lived in California, which has sunny weather a large part of the time.

"Our results invite the speculation that exposure to elevated 2,4OH-BP levels may be associated with endometriosis," explained the researchers in a prepared statement.

Apart from the study, endometriosis is a serious health issue in that can lead to pain, irregular bleeding, and difficulties with becoming pregnant. According to the U.S. National Library of Health Medicine, the cause of endometriosis is unknown. Symptoms of the illness can range from no obvious symptoms to painful periods, pain during and after sexual intercourse, and pain with bowel movements.

The Mayo Clinic also details the exams that are utilized to diagnose endometriosis, such as pelvic exams, transvaginal ultrasound, and pelvic laparoscopy. In pelvic exams, the doctor manually feels areas in the pelvis for any abnormalities. With a vaginal ultrasound, a small scanner is moved across the abdomen and uses sound waves to produce a video image of the reproductive organs. Lastly, the laparoscopy is a surgical procedure that allows physicians to examine the abdomen for signs for endometrial implants.

In general, endometriosis can be treated with medications and surgery.

"Through the constant refinement of surgical technique, it is possible to remove all endometriosis. We try to be as conservative as possible with a woman's reproductive organs while aggressively removing all visible manifestations of endometriosis, no matter where present. This can be done in an effective, safe manner,” noted Dr. Ken Sinervo, Medical Director at the Center for Endometriosis Care, on the organization´s website.