Researchers at the Sorbonne University have studied sunscreen that contains the UV filter octocrylene.

The researchers artificially aged the products so that the time corresponded to one year.

They then found an impurity in the sunscreen in the form of the hormone-disrupting and suspected carcinogenic substance benzophenone.

- Benzophenone can be harmful to the skin.

It releases free radicals from the substance, especially when exposed to sunlight.

We know from animal experiments that the substance is carcinogenic, says Didier Stein, one of the researchers behind the study from the Sorbonne University in France.

The Medical Products Agency: Respect the shelf life

According to the study, the potentially harmful substance was found in sunscreen from several well-known brands such as L'oreal, Garnier and LaRoche Possay.

But according to the industry association, consumers do not have to worry. 

- The authorities themselves must have all types of data on the substances to demonstrate that they are safe.

The precautionary principle is already built into the legislation, says Olof Holmer, CEO of the Cosmetics and Hygiene companies.

The Medical Products Agency also believes that all sunscreens available on the market are safe.

But they urge consumers to respect the shelf life.

- If a company has determined that the product is safe for twelve months, then it can be difficult to know what happens next.

It is outside what they have decided is the shelf life, says Elmira Tavoosi, toxicologist at the Medical Products Agency and investigator of sunscreen products.

The researcher: "Would never use"

The EU is currently investigating whether benzophenone should be classified as carcinogenic or not.

According to the Medical Products Agency, the legislation that is to protect consumers from harmful substances is solid.

The UV filter octocrylene is known to disturb the ecosystem in the sea and is therefore completely forbidden to use in places with sensitive coral reefs, such as the Marshall Islands and the Virgin Islands.

-I would never use sunscreen that contains octocrylic for two reasons.

Partly because it can develop benzophenone, partly because it disrupts marine life, says researcher Didier Stein.

The study is published in the scientific journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.

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This is how you know if the sunscreen is old.

Elmira Tavoosi at the Medical Products Agency urges consumers to keep an eye on the symbols.

Photo: Andreas Zernell