Break out the Tea Tree oil!

I read this news item from the National Institute of Health recently, and was suprised on a number of levels:

“A study published in this week’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that 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 boys prior to puberty…”

Three boys do not a scientific conclusion make! How did this make it into NEJM? The findings were confirmed by lab data, that’s how.  Also, when the products were discontinued, the boobs went away.

I have to say, having interacted with parents that are determined that nothing but “natural” products will touch their kids, I had to giggle when I read this. As an entomologist, I know that some of the natural pesticides you can buy are 10 times more dangerous than synthetic pesticides.

Just because it came from a plant, it isn’t always safe. You don’t want to eat sweet peas, for example. Not the same as edible peas!

The authors were careful to state, clearly, that these findings only apply to young boys. I don’t think that this will stop a run on lavender and tea tree oil, and subsequent offers by boyfriends everywhere to help massage out the stress you are storing…in your breasts.

Beware if you are also offered breast enhancing beer.


Bug_girl has a PhD in Entomology, and is a pointy-headed former academic living in Ohio. She is obsessed with insects, but otherwise perfectly normal. Really! If you want a daily stream of cool info about bugs, follow her Facebook page or find her on Twitter.

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  1. This is one to try at home, surely!


    To see if massaging an adult female with products containing lavender and/or tea tree oil causes an increase in breast size.


    A carrier oil (soya), lavender oil, tea tree oil, an adult female, a pair of warm loving hands, a tape measure.



  2. Sid, I think parts of the breast will grow, but the entire breast? Well, perhaps more research is needed …

  3. But wait. Why were prepubescent boys rubbing their chests with lavender oil? Nevermind, I don't wanna know.

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