There has been a suggestion in the media recently that women who use fake tan regularly could be putting themselves at an increased risk of infertility and having babies with birth defects.
Fake tan has been sold as the safe alternative to sun-beds but scientists say it could cause tumours and damage DNA as it contains a cocktail of chemicals which infiltrate deep into living cells.
Amongst the chemical mix are hormone-disrupting compounds which can affect the healthy development of babies, carcinogens including formaldehyde and nitrosamines, as well as skin irritants and chemicals linked to allergies, diabetes, obesity and fertility problems.
There have been no tests carried out on humans showing they are harmful or cancerous but researchers in the US have expressed fears about the safety of tanning products. Dr Lynn Goldman, dean of the School of Public Health Services, at George Washington University (in Washington DC) said: “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”.
Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the European Environment Agency said the chemicals “may be a contributing factor behind the significant increases in cancers, diabetes, obesity and falling fertility … It’s the cocktail effect”. McGlade suggest adopting a precautionary approach to many of the chemicals until their effects are fully understood.
Cosmetic manufacturers insisted all ingredients used were safe and comply with stringent EU laws covering the manufacture of cosmetic products.