Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Prepubertal Enlarged Breasts (Gynecomastia) Linked to Lavender and Tea Tree Oils

Did you know that breast reduction surgery for BOYS was one of the most common cosmetic surgeries for kids? Endocrine disruptors (e.g., pthalates) are probably a big culprit. But some natural stuff can have hormonal effects, too. Check this out (and if you have any conditions related to estrogen sensitivity--i.e., breast cancer, you might want to tate note):

Prepubertal gynecomastia is uncommon and idiopathic in over 90% of cases.

Not infrequently, urologists may identify gynecomastia in children as part of a routine physical exam or in patients with gynecomastia specifically referred to rule out a testicular abnormality.

In the February 1st issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Henley and colleagues from the University of Colorado report on 3 children whose gynecomastia resolved after stopping the use of lavender and tea tree oils. Both oils were tested on breast cancer cell lines to determine their interaction with the estrogen and androgen signaling pathways.

The first boy (age 4) presenting with worsening gynecomastia was found to have a normal testicular examination and hormonal profile. His gynecomastia resolved after his mother stopped applying a "healing balm" to the skin containing lavender oil. Another 10 year old boy presented with a 5 month history of gynecomastia and a normal evaluation. The areolar mounds disappeared 9 months after discontinuing the use of a hair styling gel containing Lavandula angustifolia (lavender) oil and Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil. The third boy age 7 years was evaluated for a 1 month history of gynecomastia and was found to be using lavender scented soap. His gynecomastia resolved several months after stopping the use of the soap.

full report here.


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Anonymous said...

I think it would be so wierd to see a boy with larger breast than usual. I believe that their personlity will be very much affected. So is their dignity.

Anonymous said...

Being a "crunchy" mama myself, I've been in contact with dozens and dozens of moms who use these oils. I do know ONE woman whose son had this problem. It was easily identified, and as you quoted, the issue resolved itself simply by eliminating the lavendar oil from the boy's daily life.

Unfortunately, conditions like asthma and allergies are lifelong illnesses and are have been linked to using harsh chemicals instead of these naturally-occuring oils. I'll always err on the side of nature when I can. Especially when a study only has 3 cases to work with, ya know? It's a very rare occurence.

GreenFertility said...

Hi Radical Mama (love your site btw),

I agree, I hesitate to cast suspicion on stuff like essential oils, but I do try to go with what clinical data I encounter. Yes, I think gynecomastia is probably more caused by industrial chemicals, but IF someone's using tea tree oil, hopefully it's something that can identify (it might not occur to people that this can happen) so it can stop, hopefully before SURGERY is put on the table!


Anonymous said...

I also agree that those oils cause gynecomastia. Many chemicals are added in products and scientists can't try to every condition. Maybe those chemicals reacted with some products use by the child.

Unknown said...

Hello. My daughter has been sick with a cold so we had been putting Baby Vicks Vaporub on her chest at night. Within a day or so her nipples got exptremely red and swollen. I called the doctor and because it was over the weekend I ended up speaking with a nurse at Children's Hospital. The nurse I spoke with actually worked with the doctor that did the research on these oils (I live in Colorado). It turns out that Lavender oil is one of the main ingredients in the vicks. Had she not known about this study we would have continued using the Vicks and would have never known what the problem was...We stopped using the Vicks immediately and within 12 hours the redness was gone and the swelling had lessened. It has now been 4 days and she is back to "normal". I just thought I would comment to let moms know about the Vicks Vaporub!
Thanks for this information,

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lindsey for the info on Vicks - my 13 year old son just complained of soreness in his "breast" and he has a small bump under the nipple that seems to point to prepubertal gynecomastia. I use the Vicks whenever my kids complain of nasal drainage, sore throats, cough -eekk!! I thought I was doing the right thing not giving oral medicines. I have also used Eucalyptus essential oil in baths - does anyone know if this is the same thing as tea tree oil?
My husband said he had the small hard bumps when he was at puberty also so I think it may be genetic as well.

Anonymous said...

I have a question for all of you....does this laveder oil effect girls and women in the same way? If so, is it just the oil or the product that causes the swelling itself? both male and female I mean.

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