It is a known fact that gynecomastia, male breasts, can occur in boys and men for several different reasons. What may cause development of the gynecomastia breast in one man may not affect another.Â I have found this to be true in my San Francisco, Bay Area practice. Some of the more common causes are use of steroids, hormonalÂ imbalance, weight gain, marijuana, and heredity.
Researchers continue to explore new possible causes. Recently there has been a lot of interest in Tea Tree Oil and Lavender Oil as being possible triggers. According to Wikipedia, Tea Tree Oil, which is indigenous to Australia, has been around for a long time. Using the crushed leaves or inhaling the oils has many medicinal purposes from treating coughs and colds to wound treatment and skin ailments. It wasnâ€™t until the 1920â€™s that the extracted oil itself became common practice. The oilÂ has been used for many different applications such as; an antifungal agent, treatment for acne, and an effective treatment for dandruff. It is meant to be used only topically, if swallowed it could be very toxic.
According to an article in â€śThe New England Journal of Medicineâ€ť, prepubertal gynecomastia was investigated in three otherwise healthy boys, between 4 and 10 years of age. The mother on one of the boys used a â€śhealing balmâ€ť containing lavender oil. Another boy used a styling gel and shampoo daily that contained lavender and tea tree oil. The third boy used lavender scented soap and occasionally a lavender scented lotion. In all three cases the gynecomastia resolved completely a few months after discontinuation of the products. This suggests these oils may possess endocrine disrupting activity that can cause an imbalance in estrogen and androgen.
Studies are still ongoing and there is some controversy to these findings. It is important for patients to be aware of the possibilities and have an informed discussion with their surgeon.