Women heavily using fake tan risk fertility complications and birth defects
24th July 2012
In a country such as England where the usual weather is dark, gloomy and rain-filled, the chance of developing a natural tan is rather slim. It is now a common occurrence for many men and women to resort to using sunbeds and fake tanning products to achieve the bronzed appearance that so many desire. The dangers of heavy sunbed use have been widely reported in the news in recent years, with excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation being responsible for an increasing number of young adults being diagnosed with both malignant melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. Fake tanning products have long been viewed as the safe option for women to use to avoid the risks with sunbeds; however these products may not be as completely safe as first thought. In fact, the chemicals used in fake tan are so hazardous that they are now being linked to fertility problems and also increasing the chance of women giving birth to a baby with birth defects. Just one of the types of these chemicals is carcinogens including formaldehyde and nitrosamines. A carcinogen is a substance or agent that is directly responsible for inducing cancer within humans and animals. They are particularly rife in cigarettes which could partly explain why tobacco smoke has been shown to also cause birth defects if the baby’s mother smokes during pregnancy, with a cleft lip or skull abnormality just two problems that could occur. As well as carcinogens, it is believed that fake tan comprises of other harmful chemicals and skin irritants that may cause allergies to worsen, which is not good news for the millions of hay fever sufferers in the UK who are already suffering with the unexpected warm weather this week. Elizabeth Salter-Green from UK charity the Chem Trust, says, “Many of the chemicals in fake tan are toxic to reproduction and can harm a foetus.” Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the European Environment Agency, further spoke about the dangers of fake tan and said they could be a contributing factor responsible for the surge in cases of cancers, diabetes, obesity and falling fertility. The primary ingredient in the fake tanning products is the chemical compound dihydroxyacetone. The chemical works with the skin’s amino acids to transform the colour to brown. However, once sprayed there is a risk of the person inhaling the substance and it going straight into the bloodstream. Scientists in the US now claim that this could result in DNA damage, tumours, and the aggravation of numerous lung conditions such as emphysema and asthma. Dr Lynn Goldman dean of the School of Public Health and Health Services at George Washington University, in Washington DC, says, “What we’re concerned about is not so much that reaction that creates the tanning, but reactions that may occur deeper down with living cells that might then change DNA, causing a mutation, and what the possible impacts of that might be.”