Chemical Sunscreens May Reduce Male Fertility Interview with:
Anders Rehfeld MD, PhD Student
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
University of Copenhagen
Copenhagen Denmark What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Human fertility is declining in many areas of the world and the reason is largely unknown. Our study shows that 44% of the tested chemical UV filters can induce calcium signals in human sperm cells, thereby mimicking the effect of progesterone. Progesterone-induced calcium signals, and the sperm functions it triggers, is absolutely essential for the human sperm cell to normally fertilise the human egg. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our study is an in vitro study, so we cannot know for sure if these effects of the chemical UV filters also takes place in vivo. However, if you are a couple trying to achieve pregnancy, it might be a good idea to use sunscreens with physical UV filters, instead of the chemical ones, even though we still cannot say for sure if they affect fertilisation in vivo. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: The main study needed would be a large human exposure study, where fertility rates were assed in an exposed and unexposed group, but this may have ethical implications. The only animal model that I know of, in which the sperm cells react to progesterone in a similar way as human sperms, is the Rhesus Macaque monkey. It might be worth a try to do the exposure study on this model instead. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Our finding might have implications outside of the field of fertility, as progesterone signaling is important in many different organs and cells. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Endocrinology. 2016 Sep 1:en20161473. [Epub ahead of print]
Chemical UV filters mimic the effect of progesterone on Ca2+ signaling in human sperm cells.
Rehfeld A1,2,3, Dissing S2, Skakkebæk NE1,3

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on September 3, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD