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Tea-tree, lavender oil linked to gynecomastia

Article-Tea-tree, lavender oil linked to gynecomastia

Atlanta—Repeated topical use of products containing lavender oil and/or tea tree oil may cause prepubertal gynecomastia, a rare condition resulting in enlarged breast tissue in pre-pubescent boys and for which a cause is seldom identified.

According to a study conducted by National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, there may be a link between the use of products containing these oils and the rare disorder. The study appeared in a recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study’s authors note that their research confirms what a Colorado pediatric endocrinologist suspected after diagnosing three of his young male patients with prepubertal gynecomastia. The three otherwise healthy Caucasian boys, ages four, seven and 10 years, had normal hormonal levels when they were diagnosed with gynecomastia, and all had used either lavender-scented soap and skin lotions or shampoos or styling products that contained tea tree oil and lavender oil as ingredients. In each case, the gynecomastia subsided or resolved several months after use of the products were discontinued.

The study’s authors caution that more research is needed determine the prevalence of prepubertal gynecomastia in boys using products containing tea-tree and and/or lavender oil. At this point, write the researchers, the study’s findings are applicable only to young males with unexplainable enlarged breasts who are regularly using products containing the oils.

“We want to encourage doctors who may be seeing patients with gynecomastia to ask their patients about the products they are using,” write the study’s authors, adding that patients with prepubertal gynecomastia may want to consider reducing the use of products that contain tea-tree and/or lavender oil.

The results of the research confirm that pure lavender and tea-tree oils can mimic the actions of estrogens and inhibit the effects of androgens. The study notes that the oils might now be considered endocrine disruptors, since they appeared to have caused an imbalance in estrogen and androgen signaling.

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