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ATTN MOMS OF BOYS

This article re. calming lavender and tea tree oil was in my local paper... thought I'd pass this info on.


Health care products can spur breast development in boys
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 07/4/06

BY AMANDA GARDNER
HEALTHDAY

Personal care products containing tea tree oils and lavender appear to cause abnormal breast development in prepubescent boys, a new study found.

The ingredients, which have an estrogenlike effect, are found in various shampoos, lotions, soaps and other products.

"There's definitely an association between exposure to lavender oil and tea tree oil and gynecomastia (abnormally large breasts in men)," said Derek Henley, lead author of the research and a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Henley stopped short of declaring a cause-and-effect relationship, but did emphasize that the information could help physicians identify cases of gynecomastia that have no readily apparent cause.

"It may help steer physicians in a direction they wouldn't have thought of," Henley said. "The message is to raise awareness, so the public is aware of the association, and physicians are aware of it."

Dr. Edward Reiter, chairman of pediatrics at Bay State Children's Hospital in Springfield, Mass., added, "The issue is a Sherlock Holmes kind of thing. This was a pretty good pick-up. It's old-fashioned science sleuthing. You have a problem, and you figure out what's going on."

Henley presented the findings at the just-completed annual meeting of the Endocrine Society, in Boston. Reiter was moderator of a press conference announcing the findings.

Gynecomastia is associated with an imbalance of estrogens (so-called female hormones) and androgens (so-called male hormones). Young boys don't produce much testosterone, so there is nothing in the body to counteract extra estrogen, such as might come from mistakenly taking a mother's birth control pill or, more concerning, an estrogen-secreting tumor.

The condition is unusual. "I may see a patient every year or every other year with this, a prepubertal boy who has some breast development," Reiter said. "Usually, it's a tiny amount, and you never find out what it is, then it goes away."

But when Dr. Clifford Bloch, co-author of the study and a pediatric endocrinologist in Denver, saw five boys with the problem, he decided to investigate. All of the boys, he soon realized, had used over-the-counter health care products containing lavender and/or tea tree oil on their hair or skin.

When tested on human breast cancer cells, the oils appeared to mimic the activity of estrogen and also suppressed male hormone responsiveness. After discontinuing use of the lavender and tea tree oils, all of the boys saw the problem resolved.

And even though the condition is relatively uncommon, experts think this information will help clear other "mystery" cases.

"My guess is that this sort of thing occurs in a scattered way in little boys all the time," Reiter said. "It may well be that someone wouldn't even think of this. Now, doctors can ask if the patient is using any products."

ON THE WEB: For more information on gynecomastia from the American Academy of Family Physicians, visit familydoctor.org/080.xml.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
sweetjezebel
Jul. 6th, 2006 08:18 am (UTC)
Wow! So no more of that Johnson & Johnson calming lotion??? I will have to pass this on to friends with boys.
mommycal
Jul. 6th, 2006 11:12 am (UTC)
SHIT, I use it on the girls all the time. What the heck am I suppose to use?!?!?
purplejuli
Jul. 6th, 2006 03:12 pm (UTC)
I don't think it's a problem for girls. But maybe it could be linked to early puberty? I dunno. It scared me, I've always used the lavender scented stuff for Andy.
mommycal
Jul. 6th, 2006 03:13 pm (UTC)
check out that site that rates everyday household products. Thats why I was so concerned about what type of sunblock I used on the girls. We're all going to die. Blah!!!!!!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )