If you started talking to another guy about gynecomastia, he would have no idea what you were talking about.
The term ‘Man boobs’ would definitely ring a bell though, along with several other, almost derogatory terms.
Gynecomastia or gynaecomastia is the proper term for this condition, and it’s defined as having excess breast tissue or woman-like breast.
Not too long ago, the only guys who were getting a male breast reduction or gynecomastia surgery were aspiring models, steroid-using bodybuilders, dudes growing actual female-like breasts, older self-conscious men, & Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
According to Dr. Mangal, chairman of the department of plastic surgery at Sir Ganga Ram clinic, says back in the day, only about 5 male patients underwent breast reduction within a year. Now, at a minimum, 5 male patients undergo breast reduction surgery in one month. Dr. Mangal says it’s mostly due to a hormonal imbalance in males.
The most common is mild or moderate gynecomastia. According to the National Institute of Health, 65% of men have some amount of gynecomastia.
In a mild case, you’ll see more of a “puffy nipple” appearance instead of larger breasts.
Since we know that gynecomastia is an imbalance of hormones and about one-third of men are affected or will be affected, it seems like there may be a connection with the gradual decline of testosterone in men since the 1970s and ’80s.
Since the 1980’s there’s been a 25 percent drop in testosterone among men. Decreased testosterone almost doubles your chance of getting diabetes, high blood pressure, obese, & high cholesterol. One thing left out is the rise in gynecomastia (man boobs).
Nobody has a solid answer or concrete evidence on why this is happening. The only thing we can do is connect some dots.
Since gynecomastia is a hormonal imbalance caused by having higher estrogen levels than testosterone, we’ll have to find the reason behind lower testosterone levels.
You’ve probably seen the words “BPA Free” on plastic products since consumers are now aware of the harmful chemical used to harden plastic. BPA (a.k.a, Bisphenol) is a chemical used to harden plastics.
90% of us have BPA in our bodies at this moment and it’s pretty hard to avoid. It’s in pretty much everything. It’s also in our food and water that has been sitting in BPA containers or bottles. We are literally breathing it from our air and dust.
The FDA used to say it was safe until 2010, after some revealing studies deemed the chemical was risky. Nobody knows the exact consequences or effects of BPA but some experts have chimed in. Apparently, BPA can act as a hormone in your body by screwing up normal hormone levels and mess with your potential offspring. Also infant’s and children’s brains can be affected according to the FDA. There are more health risks but there’s not a lot of evidence to support them. The biggest risks are definitely changes in hormone levels & interrupting development in fetuses, infants, and young children.
There’s a lot of talk on how BPA is a big contributor to gynecomastia. There is no concrete evidence & research is currently being done on the risks. You probably do not want to wait too long to jump ship on BPA products.
To lower your risk you’ll want to:
- Use BPA-free products. Almost everything now is manufactured BPA-free all over the world.
- Stop using plastic containers for storing food. Instead use glass, porcelain, or stainless steel.
- Don’t heat up plastic with BPA, such as when microwaving food. Heat causes the BPA to “bleed” out onto food.
- Eat more fresh & frozen foods. Less canned foods.
Soy used to be considered a great health food in the west but now people, especially men, wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole.
There was a strange case where a 60-year-old man developed man breasts, had erectile dysfunction, and very low libido. After consulting with an endocrinologist, they reported that he had an abnormal amount of estradiol for his age. He mentioned he consumed about 3 quarts of soy milk every day. After stopping all soy milk consumption, his gynecomastia disappeared.
A lot of men’s blogs, health sites, & sites like Huffington Post advise against consuming any soy product at all. There’s a lot of opinions on soy products but there’s never really been any well-done studies on the effects of soy on testosterone.
While most studies conclude that there is nothing wrong with eating a certain amount of soy per day (the number is more than what the average Japanese person eats), a lot of the studies were done on small groups or not enough people.
One shocking study by Harvard in 2008, found that male infertility patients had lower sperm counts by about 40 million/ml if they had soy in their diets compared to patients who did not.
It seems that everyone has a different reaction to soy, especially men who are obese, but we can all agree to not eat too much of it.
Some types of soy have benefits like lowering the risk of prostate cancer, contributing to heart health and provides the essential amino acids.
Lectins are found in soy and it’s a self-defense mechanism against animals who eat plants including soy. The kind of lectin found in soy is called agglutinin which fuses red blood cells together and screws up blood flow. This can lead to gastro issues such as ‘leaky gut syndrome’. Some people are not as sensitive to lectin. It’s also known that lectin in adolescents plays a role in gynecomastia development.
If you do enjoy eating soy, then try to stay away from ‘GMO soy’ which is the majority of soy products out in the market today.
Fermented soy such as soy sauce or miso may be better if your body can tolerate the histamine due to fermentation. Histamine is basically what’s present in your body when you have an allergic reaction.
Fun fact: Soy sauce is actually not indigenous to China but originated from Korea.
Personally, I have always wondered why you will rarely see Asians with gynecomastia symptoms, but my assumption is that they eat less processed soy and more fermented soy. Although now that the consumption of western food is on the rise, hidden soy will be consumed more as well.
To sum it all up about consuming soy, there aren’t many studies on soy’s effect on men’s testosterone and fertility. Fermented soy products might be better for you. If you’re concerned about gynecomastia or lower testosterone, abstain from all soy products and read labels for hidden soy.
Alcohol kills much more than testosterone, but it’s a social thing that is hard to escape sometimes. Research shows that just having two alcoholic drinks per day can lower T levels. You especially want to stay away from beer as the hops contain estrogen. Not only will you have a beer gut but you can develop man boobs as well.
1 gram of alcohol has 7 cal while 1 gram of fat has 9 cal. Protein and carbs have about 4 cal per gram. When consuming alcohol, your body will only focus on metabolizing the alcohol before it starts metabolizing food. This results in your body storing fat, and if you notice one of your parents storing a lot of fat in their chest or nipple area, then you probably will store fat the same way.
For the last reason, I do not believe there have been many studies on this except for this and the study in World War II. Refeeding of gynecomastia is where you lose so much weight by starving yourself, then after going back to a normal diet, a big amount of fat starts being stored in the chest area resulting in clinical gynecomastia. With people doing this crazy starvation diets these days, no wonder dudes are getting gynecomastia or can’t get rid of it.
The way teenage men and adult men are living is a huge T blocker. Society isn’t helping at all with all the processed foods, increasing pressures for men, less sleep, binge drinking, lack of nutrients, glorified drug use, & medications thrown at us.
One more reason gynecomastia surgery is on the rise is due to men being more self-conscious about their appearances. I believe men are holding themselves up to a different standard due to all the Instagram lifestyles & Hollywood movies. We see these perfect lifestyles and want to emulate them or at least look like them.
People want instant gratification and immediate results. Although they might need to see an endocrinologist, some men would probably opt for gynecomastia surgery instead. There have been many cases where gynecomastia returned even after surgery. There’s a high chance this may be due to men’s lifestyles not changing.
If you have a case of mild gynecomastia or the “puffy-nipples” and are looking to get surgery, it is highly recommended to change your diet first and start weight training. When weight training, you will want to sculpt your pecs. I help men specifically with this on my blog including dietary and lifestyle advice.
Food and Drug Administration
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
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