Hormones in some popular sunscreens could affect young children

People's Pharmacy

April 24, 2005|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,King Features Syndicate

I have been using a baby sunscreen for my 22-month-old son. It has an SPF of 30. Whenever we go out in the sun, I slather the stuff on and then slather on more throughout the day. Someone recently told me that sunscreen can be absorbed through the skin and get into the circulation. Is this true? Are there any dangers in using sunscreen daily on a toddler?

Researchers have found that some popular sunscreen ingredients are absorbed from the skin and can be measured in the urine (Journal of Investigative Dermatology, July 2004).

Concern has focused on possible estrogenic activity of some sunscreens. This research did not demonstrate any changes in hormone levels in adults, but the authors caution that young children may be more vulnerable to such effects.

You may want to consider a sunscreen containing a physical sun-blocker such as zinc or titanium. They can be found in products like Blue Lizard Australian Suncream-Baby, Clinique Super City Block and Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunblock.

My doctor prescribed amitriptyline to relieve the pain in my feet. I take one pill at bedtime. This medicine is causing the strangest experience: I hear music all day, both classical and rap. No one has ever heard of such a reaction. I have tried stopping the amitriptyline for several weeks and find that the music fades out when I do this.

Drug-induced hallucinations (visual or auditory) are uncommon but disturbing side effects. To be on the safe side, you should probably have a neurological work-up to rule out any other underlying problem. If your doctor determines that the antidepressant amitriptyline is indeed the culprit, he may want to consider another approach to deal with your nerve pain. An anti-seizure medication like Neurontin may help ease your discomfort without making music in your head.

Almost 20 years ago, I was diagnosed as hypothyroid and given thyroid hormone. In the early 1990s, my doctor switched me over to Synthroid. All my symptoms returned, and I felt miserable. The doctor insisted that my blood test was normal. After eight years, I switched doctors and was put on Armour thyroid. It worked well to relieve most of my symptoms. I moved five years ago and have been struggling to convince doctors that I do better on Armour thyroid. What is the difference between synthetic and natural hormone treatments? Why do I feel better on Armour?

In a hypothyroid condition, your thyroid gland does not produce enough hormone. The solution is to supply what is missing.

Many doctors prefer levothyroxine, a synthetic form of the thyroid hormone T4. It is sold under brand names Synthroid and Levoxyl and is also available generically.

Armour thyroid, an animal extract, contains two types of thyroid hormone (T3 in addition to T4). Although normal tissues convert T4 to T3, some hypothyroid people seem to have trouble with this conversion. That explains why they may feel better on Armour, or on a combination of T4 with a small amount of T3.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail via their Web site: www.peoplespharmacy.org.

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