The gentle heat of the sun rays on your face, the feeling of well-being and calm, sunbathing is relaxing and improves mood, in addition it is also a healthy gesture since in this way the body is able to synthesize the vitamin D. But it is also important not to expose yourself to risks as sun rays, even if beneficial, can cause sunburn, premature skin aging and even serious diseases such as skin cancers. For this reason, you should choose the hours of the day when the concentration of UV rays is not maximum. The general advice it is to avoid the hours around midday until 4 pm. But also sunscreens are needed to protect us adequately. There are many sunscreens on the market and it is often difficult to understand their INCI, the label that reports the ingredients that often appear with strange names. However, there are substances that should be avoided in any case, such as oxybenzone and Octyl-Methoxycinnamate, we spoke about these substances in previous posts. But there is another substance you should pay attention to, 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor, which is the topic of today.
Enzacamene or 4-MBC, which in the INCI appears with the name 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor, is a substance derived from camphor widely used in cosmetics for its ability to protect the skin from UV rays by absorbing solar radiation. This substance is also found in anti-aging lotions and other products and creams for the day. However, several scientific studies have warned about its use, in particular, 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor is believed to act as an endocrine disruptor. All the researches on this sunscreen substance have shown its ability to stimulate the estrogen hormones, however, for what concerns the extent of this effect, there is no agreement. In fact, there are those who argue that the action of 4-MBC is barely detectable and that, in order to observe harmful effects, large amounts of substance that are not present in commonly used products are required (Mueller et al, Toxicology letters, Apr 2003). In other researches, instead, the same amount of 4-MBC that can be found in commercially available sunscreen creams has demonstrated a profound action on estrogens by even influencing the growth of the uterus before puberty in laboratory tests (Schlumpf et al, Environmental Health Perspectives, 2001). Moreover, it has also been observed that 4-MBC acts on the thyroid gland causing symptoms of hypothyroidism (Hamann et al, Endocrine Abstracts, 2006). At present this substance has not been approved by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA), that deals with the regulation of food and pharmaceutical products in the United States, but is permitted, albeit with limitations, in other countries. Therefore, given the doubts about its effect on the body's hormones and on the thyroid it is a good choice to be careful of this substance and, when possible, avoid it.