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For the record

Researchers respond to headlines claiming "Sunscreen blamed for drop in sperm counts"  Image

Researchers respond to headlines claiming "Sunscreen blamed for drop in sperm counts"

Articles in The Times(£), The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mail on Thursday 18th June 2015 claimed synthetic chemicals in cosmetics and sunscreen are harming sperm quality. They advised that men should “stop wearing sunscreen and pregnant women should avoid make-up and sun cream as they could be harming unborn baby boys.” On Tuesday 28th July 2015, the Daily Mirror reported that “plastics are thought to be the main culprit for the drop in quality”. In fact there is not strong evidence for a link between the chemicals in cosmetics, sunscreen, or plastic and low sperm quality.

Allan Pacey, Professor of Andrology, University of Sheffield:

“I am unconvinced by the studies showing that sperm quality is falling, as the majority are retrospective and how sperm quality is measured has changed drastically. Male reproductive disorders have increased but we do not currently have enough evidence about what is causing this. It’s not yet clear whether the use of cosmetics during pregnancy is harmful to a fetus or affects sperm quality in later life. This needs further research.”

Prof Richard Sharpe, Group Leader on Male Reproductive Health, University of Edinburgh:

“In my opinion, the evidence that exposure to low levels of certain chemicals is causing sperm counts to drop is lacking, though I would not rule out the possibility. However, there is strong scientific evidence of the adverse effects of too much UV exposure, in contrast to hypothetical effects of sunscreen on sperm counts. I would hesitate to recommend men or pregnant women not to use sunscreens.”

Document type: For The Record

Published: 18 June 2015


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