Exposure to benzophenone-3 and reproductive toxicity: A systematic review of human and animal studies

Reprod Toxicol. 2017 Oct;73:175-183. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2017.08.015. Epub 2017 Aug 24.


Hydroxy-4-methoxybenzophenone, also known as benzophenone-3 (BP-3), is a commonly used ultraviolet filter in skincare and as a food additive. Large concentrations of similar phenolic compounds have been detected in urine, amniotic fluid, and placental tissue, thereby raising questions about its impact on reproduction. The objective of this paper was to investigate the reproductive toxicity of BP-3 in humans and animals. In humans, studies showed that high levels of BP-3 exposure could be linked to an increase in male birth weight but a decline in female birth weight and male gestational age. In fish, BP-3 exposure resulted in a decline in egg production, hatching, and testosterone, along with a down-regulation of steroidogenic genes. In rats, a decrease in epididymal sperm density and a prolonged estrous cycle for females was observed. These positive associations may be attributed to an altered estrogen and testosterone balance as a result of endocrine disrupting effects of BP-3. However, the current body of literature is limited by non-uniform exposure and outcome measurements in studies both across and within species and future studies will need to be conducted in a standardized fashion to allow for a more significant contribution to the literature that allows for better comparison across studies.

Keywords: BP-3; Benzophenone-3; Reproduction; Reproductive toxicity.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzophenones / toxicity*
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Reproduction / drug effects*
  • Sunscreening Agents / toxicity*


  • Benzophenones
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Sunscreening Agents
  • oxybenzone