Study finds suntan oil is present on our tables

Jan 26, 2006
suntan oil

Suntan oil, which can change the sex of fish, is present in our food and drinking water. The Independent website has reported that experts have discovered male hornyhead turbot and English sole feeding next to sewage on the Californian coast. Both species are undergoing gender transformation into females and a chemical identified in sunscreens is being held responsible.

Researchers at the University of California have discovered that 66% of the male turbot and sole feeding next to a sewage outfall along the California coast were growing ovary tissue in their testes. In another development, studies carried out by the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project have identified fish affected all along the California coast. This research is the first to spot gender changes in fish in their natural habitat.

Hornyhead Turbot

Swiss researchers also claim to have found gender-transforming chemicals from sun creams and oils building up in fish in their rivers

In the UK, research sponsored by the UK Environment Agency in 2002 on the feminising of fish in British waters attributed the gender changes to oestrogen in urine from users of the contraceptive pill. However, the University of California researchers said the only factor they identified was oxybenzone, which is used to protect the skin from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Although similar to oestrogen, oxybenzone is washed off tanned bodies in the shower or bath. It then passes through sewage works and settles on the seabed where fish come and feed.

The researchers believe sunscreens and other pollutants could have a role. The Swiss team has identified two other gender-bender components found in sunscreen and lip balm. They are octocrylene and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, both of which are reportedly building up in fish.

The researchers are concerned that people could be exposed to these chemicals by eating fish, drinking water and applying cosmetics onto their skin. Cosmetic manufacturers have refuted this, claiming that sun protection lotions save lives and that "sunscreen phobia" could lead to more cases of cancer.

Concerns also remain about the universal use of sunscreens. When we shield ourselves from sunlight, our bodies produce less vitamin D, which protects us against as many as 16 different cancers.

Copyright 2006 PhysOrg.com

Explore further: Team researches the relationship between religion and educational attainment

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

UNL drillers help make new Antarctic discoveries

Jan 21, 2015

Using a hot-water drill and an underwater robotic vehicle designed, built and operated by a University of Nebraska-Lincoln engineering team, scientists have made new discoveries about Antarctica's geology ...

Men want commitment when women are scarce

Jan 13, 2015

The sexual stereotype, in line with evolutionary theory, is that women want commitment and men want lots of flings. But a study of the Makushi people in Guyana shows the truth is more complex, with men more ...

Recommended for you

Young people overly optimistic about finances

Jan 23, 2015

A new survey of young New Zealanders by the Westpac-Massey Fin-Ed Centre shows that many believe their financial situation will improve in the coming year and their money management skills require no improvement.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.