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Enlarged male breasts linked to plant essences.

Resulting from an imbalance between the activity of hormones stimulating breast growth, some forms of gynecomastia (enlarged male breasts) may be a result of two ingredients common in hair and skin-care products: lavender oil and tea tree oil.

Certain compounds in these plant essences act like female sex hormones. Pediatric endocrinologist Clifford Bloch explains that enlarged breasts in men are rare before the onset of puberty, but since the mid-1990's, he has treated gynecomastia in a series of boys younger than 10 years of age. None of the boys had problems with hormone imbalance, indicating that the cause was elsewhere.

The parents explained to Dr. Bloch that their children had been using soap, shampoo, and hair gel products containing tea tree oil or lavender oil. Dr. Bloch recommended that the boys stop using these products. In follow-up examinations a few months later, the gynecomastia disappeared. When human breast cells were exposed to lavender oil and tea tree oil, estrogen-regulated and androgen-regulated genes were turned on. Young boys were advised to avoid using these oils. These plant essences probably have similar effects in young girls, and hormone-mimicking plant compounds may upset their physiological balance at a prepubescent age.

(Source: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, July 2006.)

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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2010
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