But just because something gets into your body doesn’t mean it’s bad for you. I know these compounds have chemical names, but the assumption that artificial compounds are worse for you than all of the other stuff we put in our bodies is known as the “naturalistic fallacy.” By way of comparison, the average blood level of caffeine after a cup of coffee is 50 times higher than the peak concentration of oxybenzone seen in this study. But that oxybenzone level is about seven times higher than the blood nicotine level seen after smoking a cigarette.In other words, the fact that you can measure something in the blood doesn’t tell you anything about whether it is bad for you. We simply don’t know what the risk is. And we need to find out.
Personally, I wouldn’t call for a freeze on chemical sunscreens. These drugs have been used for decades and there have been no strong epidemiologic signals of harm. Quite the opposite, they have probably prevented uncounted cases of skin cancer.
The problem with studies like these is that the fear they engender may do more harm than the good science that results from them. Nothing has changed about the harm of UV rays since the publication of this study in JAMA; you still don’t want your skin exposed to them.