Regular exposure to essential oils can disrupt hormones in the body and cause abnormal breast growth in young boys, according to researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The researchers looked at the effects of eight chemicals found in lavender oil, tea tree oil, or both. All eight were found to cause abnormal breast growth in boys – a condition called prepubertal gynecomastia. Many of the chemicals tested are also found in other essential oils.
Essential oils are popular alternatives to medical treatment, and are used for aromatherapy and in personal hygiene and cleaning products. Lavender and tea tree oil are found in soaps, lotions, shampoos, hair-styling products, cologne, and laundry detergents. Results of this study were presented at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in Chicago.