What Causes Gynecomastia?

Written by Dr. Sean Maguire on September 12, 2016

Gynecomastia, or abnormal breast growth in men, is caused by an imbalance of the hormones testosterone and estrogen. Men have both of these hormones in their bodies, but when the amount of testosterone decreases in relation to the amount of estrogen, it can cause gynecomastia. Men may experience hormone imbalances for a variety of reasons. In this post, Dr. Sean Maguire of Physician’s Center for Beauty examines some of the causes of hormone imbalances that can lead to abnormal breast growth in men.

Hormones Fluctuate with Age

Hormone levels in men fluctuate naturally as part of the aging process. During puberty, many boys experience gynecomastia, but the condition usually subsides within two years on its own. The prevalence of gynecomastia peaks again in men between the ages of 50 and 80. At least one in four men in this age group experiences breast enlargement. Middle-aged and older men who are overweight are even more likely to be affected by gynecomastia.

Health Conditions Can Cause Gynecomastia

There are several health conditions that affect hormone levels and cause enlarged breasts in men. Some of these conditions include:

  • Malnutrition and starvation – Lack of adequate nutrition causes testosterone levels to drop, which can cause gynecomastia.
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Liver failure and cirrhosis – This condition alters normal hormone metabolism and may lead to male breast enlargement.
  • Kidney failure
  • Disorders of the male sex organs (testes) – Both genetic disorders and acquired disorders of the testes can result in decreased testosterone production.

Medications Can Influence Hormone Levels

Many different kinds of medications can cause gynecomastia. Anti-androgens that are used to treat prostate cancer or prostate enlargement, including flutamide, finasteride (Proscar, Propecia) and spironolactone (Aldactone), can cause abnormal breast growth in men. Anabolic steroids and anxiety medications can also contribute to male breast enlargement. Drugs of abuse, such as alcohol, marijuana and heroin, have also been linked to gynecomastia.

Learn More about Gynecomastia

Are you interested in learning more about gynecomastia and your treatment options? Dr. Sean Maguire has helped men with abnormal breast enlargement improve their appearance and regain their confidence, and he can help you determine if you’re a good candidate for male breast reduction surgery. Schedule a consultation at Physician’s Center for Beauty by calling (502) 897-7546 today.

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