Rare cases of enlarged breasts in young boys have been linked to lavender and tea tree oils used in some soaps, shampoos and body lotions. Based on a preliminary study, the oils appear to disrupt boys’ hormonal balance. The rare condition is called gynecomastia and it seems to clear up once the boys stop using the products containing lavender or tea tree oil. These two oils are plant based oils, and because of their scent are added to many body care products. Tea tree oil is also an ingredient is some head lice shampoos. In laboratory tests, the oils blocked a male hormone and appeared to mimic the femal hormone estrogen. The federally funded study was based on the cases of three young boys with overdeveloped breasts, who had used products with the oils. The results of the study were recently reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.
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