Claims at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (Eshre) made by Dr Niels Jorgensen, a consultant at the Department of Growth and Reproduction at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen suggested that cosmetic products, including sunscreens, and their ingredients, could be damaging male fertility.
Dr Jorgensen completed a 15 year study of almost 5,000 Danish men, with an average age of 19, and presented his results at the conference, stating that just 25% had good-quality semen.
However, the CTPA has moved quickly to explain there is no foundation in the claims, and reassure consumers in Europe that products on the market are safe.
"CTPA is very disappointed to hear there has been speculation regarding sperm counts and possible links to substances used in cosmetics,” says Dr Chris Flower, Director-General of CTPA.
“There is no published evidence to support such an allegation and we can state categorically that cosmetic products are required by strict European laws to be safe.”
Flower explains that the industry and the regulators are aware of concerns regarding possible endocrine effects and if such a risk was present from cosmetic products, action would already have taken place to deal with it.
“Not to wear sunscreen is an outrageous piece of advice because we know the risks of sun damage, and to frighten pregnant women about non-existent dangers of cosmetics is equally irresponsible," he adds.
There is a legal obligation for manufacturers and importers to carry out a rigorous safety assessment performed by a qualified, scientific expert before placing a cosmetic product on the market, which takes into account the finished product, all of the ingredients, how and where the product is to be used, how often and by whom.
“No matter how emotional the issue, the science remains the same and if safety cannot be demonstrated, the substance cannot and will not be used in cosmetics – it is as simple as that,” says the CTPA on its website.
A substance that could reduce sperm rates or affect fertility would be classed as an 'endocrine disruptor', which is a term that has been mentioned before when questioning cosmetic product safety.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines an endocrine disruptor as: “an exogenous substance or mixture that alters function(s) of the endocrine system and consequently causes adverse health effects in an intact organism, or its progeny, or (sub)populations.”
The CTPA says that it is true that certain substances may mimic some of the properties of our hormones or may, under experimental conditions, show a potential to interact with parts of the endocrine system, but these conditions are not related to real life.
“We would like to stress that cosmetic ingredients, including UV filters mentioned in these stories, are not endocrine disruptors. There is a wealth of scientific information that supports the safety of these ingredients and nothing linking them to a decline in fertility,” it adds.