Q&A: Lavender oil and cancer

This question combines two recent topics – lavender oil and cancer – and shows that strange information continues to swirl about…

Q&ABeverley H writes
Hi Robert
One of the first references I use when looking up contra-indications is your book with Tony Balaczs – Essential Oil Safety. I understand that you are working on a new edition so no doubt there is more information available than is presently in the book I have.

This morning one of my graduates contacted me. An essential oil supply store in her area has added a caveat to their lavender EO, and say it is now contraindicated for cancer. I have not come across any evidence to support this contra-indication and I was wondering whether if you had. If you have any insight on this I would love to hear it.

Thanks very much.
Bev

**********

Beverley, that’s completely baffling to me!
Robert

4 comments to Q&A: Lavender oil and cancer

  • I know there was alot of research a few years back on monoterpenes such as limonene (a component of lavender oil) as a preventative measure for breast cancer. Here is a link to one paper http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470060/. But as a cause of cancer??? I think someone is confused.

  • I recently came across some articles stating that lavender has an effect similar to female hormones on the body. I believe they cited estrogen. However, I have not searched actively for proof yet. They may have come across the same articles and leaped to the conclusion that since estrogen can make some types of cancer worse, lavender would have the same effect. I am still holding out for more studies.

  • Camille, I addressed this issue recently in http://roberttisserand.com/2011/07/lavender-oil-and-pregnancy/
    Where I state that:”One in vitro study found that lavender oil had a very weak estrogenic action in MCF-7 breast cancer cells (Henley et al 2007). However, there is no evidence that lavender oil has any adverse effects on human hormonal activity. In another in vitro study, lavender oil inhibited the growth of MCF-7 cells (Zu et al 2010) suggesting that, while it may bind to estrogen receptor sites in the body, it is not an estrogen mimic, and so does not promote estrogen.”
    I think there is always a risk of jumping to conclusions from in vitro studies showing weak estrogen-like action.

  • This is an article I found when I had stage 2 breast cancer: http://foodforbreastcancer.com/foods/lavender
    It scared me off of lavender for the remainder of my treatment, until I came across your article about lavender and cancer. I use lavender quite a lot on my self and my kids, and most of the time I feel pretty confident about it. But I have to admit, I occasionally become worried. Especially after reading that others think it could cause cancer. Where are they getting their info?

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