I was watching a documentary earlier today called “The Disappearing Male” about how endocrine disrupting chemicals are causing many species to become more heavily female. This is most obvious in species of reptiles and frogs, but we already know that human males are already becoming less and less fertile and that we are starting to produce more girl babies than boys.
It is less than an hour long and if you are interested you can watch it here
Now there are a lot of endocrine disruptors. There are fertilizers, there are pesticides, and there are plastics. There are things you can do to reduce your exposure to these, but unfortunately some level of exposure is inevitable.
However endocrine disruptors lurk in a few other areas where you can completely avoid them. Like sunscreens. We don’t use chemical sunscreens. At all. If you see my child at the pool or the beach he is the one with the streaky white stuff on his face and body. I don’t trust the micronized particles and quite honestly I can tell when the white stuff wears off. Also physical sunscreens are still good next summer (minerals do not degrade in one year).
My aversion to chemical sunscreens is dual. First of all they only work if you really do reapply them every hour. They work by breaking down in sunlight so after an hour the chemical has been degraded and it is no longer providing protection. So you need to catch your children and then re-lube them. At the beach. After they are all sandy.
Second, they are endocrine disruptors and they work by being absorbed into the skin and into the tissues of the body where they can wreak havoc on the hormonal development of a growing child. Endocrine disruptors reduce sperm count, reduce testosterone levels, and can cause deformed genitals in unborn male children.
In addition while sunscreens definitely do protect against basal cell carcinomas, and squamous cell carcinomas, there is no conclusive evidence that they protect against melanoma.
So what do we do?
In my house, we rely on zinc oxide and titanium dioxide physical sunblocks with very few ingredients. We try not to spend too much time out in the strongest rays of the day, and we also slowly, slowly, over the course of the summer, get a tan. I know this is not an option for people with very pale skin that refuses to tan.
Now physical sunscreens have their problems. The ones that stay on all day really do stay on all day and need to be scrubbed off at night (with a washcloth or brush or scrubbie) in the shower. The ones that wash off are not all that helpful for children. They have to be rubbed in and cannot be sprayed on and yes, even then you still look really pasty.
If you are interested in learning more about this, check out the episode from Dr Oz from earlier this summer. It is in three parts. You can access them here
Or you can cut to the chase and read what the doctor on the show wrote as well
If you want to read more on the topic and get help finding a sunscreen that doesn’t have scary endocrine disruptors and ingredients banned in the EU you can go to the Environmental Working Group here.