Common Causes of Gynecomastia

Common Causes of Gynecomastia

Gynecomastia is the enlargement of breast tissue in men or boys. The condition often appears at puberty, but it can develop in older men as well. 

Although hormone fluctuations are one of the most common causes of gynecomastia, there are many other ways you can trigger abnormal tissue growth in the breasts.

Below, we asked Richard M. Levin, our expert at Lancaster Plastic Surgery, to explain the most common causes of gynecomastia, as well as how gynecomastia can be treated. 

Conditions that cause gynecomastia 

You’re more likely to develop gynecomastia if you have chronic kidney disease, liver disease, testicular cancer, adrenal gland tumors, or a congenital disorder. 

All of the conditions mentioned above impact the testosterone to estrogen ratio in men. For example, patients with chronic kidney disease often suffer from testosterone deficiency. 

Medications that cause gynecomastia 

Medications that could contribute to breast enlargement in men include the following:

Drugs such as marijuana and anabolic steroids can also lead to gynecomastia. Studies suggest that more than half of heavy anabolic steroid users develop gynecomastia. 

Foods that can cause gynecomastia 

Certain plant foods (e.g., soy, flaxseed, sesame seeds, and wheat) contain estrogen mimickers in various quantities. In excess, these estrogen mimickers can lead to hormone imbalances in both men and women. 

Therefore, eating a diet largely composed of plant foods rich in estrogen mimickers can increase your risk of developing gynecomastia.

Gynecomastia and obesity 

Enlargement of the breasts in obese boys and men is common, not only due to weight gain but also due to hormone level changes.

In obese men, the enzyme aromatase is elevated. This causes the body to convert some of the testosterone produced to estrogen, which leads to changes in fat distribution.

Pseudogynecomastia refers to when breasts increase in size due to weight gain only. The difference between the two conditions is that the new tissue is firmer when it’s the result of gynecomastia. 

Gynecomastia treatment options 

For boys and men who’ve suffered from gynecomastia for less than a year, doctors can recommend certain drugs to reduce breast size. If gynecomastia is present for longer periods, the surgical removal of the excess tissue in the breast is usually the best course of treatment. 

If you’ve had gynecomastia for longer than a year and are bothered by the appearance of your chest, contact us to schedule an appointment and find out if you’re a good candidate for breast reduction. 

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