Monday, April 02, 2007

Random Interesting Facts #2 - Gynecomastia

I read this in Scientific American, but this link is from
Personal-Care Products Can Spur Breast Development in Boys

If that title doesn't say it all, I'll briefly elaborate. It was found that some pre-pubescent boys were exhibiting gynecomastia (abnormal breast growth in men). After they stopped using products that contained tea tree oils and/or lavender, this condition subsided.

I should emphasis that lavender and tea tree oils have not been definitively shown to cause gynecomastia. (Correlation is not causation.) A proposed reason for this effect in pre-pubescent boys is that these chemicals mimic the effect of estrogen, which is one hormone responsible for inducing breast growth (usually in females though). As young boys have low levels of testosterone, a predominantly male hormone, they cannot counteract the effects of these estrogen-mimicing aromatics. Thus, man-boobs.

You shouldn't all stop using lavender and tea tree oil-containing products, but if you are a male that hasn't hit puberity, maybe you should keep this in the back of your mind.

Word of the day:
gynecomastia - abnormal growth of breast tissue in a male

gyneco- means woman; mast(o)- means breast or lump; -ia is a common disease/condition suffix

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