A range of popular sunscreen products could pose a cancer risk if left on the shelf for too long, according to a new study.
In the ground-breaking research US and French scientists have found that a number of popular sun lotions contained a chemical called octocrylene.
Researchers said that over time that chemical can in fact turn harmful and become carcinogenic when it produces another compound called benzophenone.
Now, scientists are calling for a ban on the products and want consumers to be aware of the dangers.
In a study published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology researchers looked at a range of well-known brands of sunscreen.
They tested products from brands including from Garnier, LaRoche-Posay, L’Oreal, and Neutrogena, all bought from shops in the US and France.
After artificially ageing some of the creams scientists founds the compound which is used to protect the skin from the harmful effects of the sun, octocrylene, degrades into benzophenone over time.
Speaking to France Info about the study Dr Didier Stien, one of the authors, said: “When it is on the skin, benzophenone can induce dermatitis. It can cause cancer, especially liver cancer.
“It is a molecule that affects thyroid function and disrupts the development of reproductive organs.
“To our knowledge in the scientific literature and in general, no one [before this study] had demonstrated that octocrylene degrades into benzophenone.”
Dr Stien said that manufacturers and consumers needed to be aware that products containing octocrylene and benzophenone can be dangerous and called on them to be banned.
In the study’s conclusion scientists said: “There is enough scientific literature to make an argument that octocrylene/benzophenone products can pose a threat to individual and public health.
“Several jurisdictions, including the Republics of Palau and the Marshall Islands as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands, have banned octocrylene in sunscreen and cosmetic products, effective in January 2020.
“It is agreeable that there needs to be more refined and rigorously produced, unbiased data regarding exposure and toxicity of both these chemicals and the products that contain them.”
The Cosmetic Toiletry & Perfumery Association was reported to have said that the new study doesn’t show that sunscreens containing octocrylene pose any health risk to humans, only that benzophenone impurities can exist after manufacture in sunscreen products.