The medical term for 'man boobs' is gynecomastia which comes from the Greek meaning 'woman' + 'breasts'.
Although the cause is often deemed idiopathic (meaning it's not known), the majority of cases are caused by an imbalance of sex hormones. About 25% of cases fall into the idiopathic category.
The physical manifestation is breast enlargement, it normally occurs in both breasts but can sometimes be in one only, known as asymmetrical or unilateral gynecosmastia. Occasionally a secretion of milk can be present too. Man boobs can affect up to 60% of men, including infants and adolescents.
The breast can increase in size due to stimulation of the breast tissue and an increase in adipose (fat) cells. Man boobs can be tender or painful, the medical term is mastodynia, mastalgia or mammalgia.
The following is a list of terms in use denoting different aspects of gynecosmastia or man boobs:
See under 'More Information' below for further drugs that can cause man boobs.
If all other factors which cause man boobs, as outlined above, have been eliminated, in all probability it's been caused by excess oestrogen.
The safest route is to suppress this is with progesterone.
Progesterone is not a sex hormone, it plays no part in the secondary sexual characteristics which develop at puberty. It is secreted primarily by the testes in men and the ovaries in females. Smaller amounts are produced by the adrenal glands, the brain and glial cells.
There are no great quantitative differences between men and women (at least outside the woman's luteal phase).
Progesterone is the precursor to the sex hormones oestrogen and testosterone, and to cortisol and aldosterone.
Progesterone has several other advantages:
There are several routes used to deliver progesterone, injections, suppositories, IV transfusion (for brain trauma), transdermal creams, buccal drops and oral pills. It is rapidly absorbed transdermally and its patterns of distribution and metabolism are comparable to those previously reported for intravascularly administered progesterone. For this reason alone it is preferable to the other routes. Another advantage is that it can be applied anywhere. Although progesterone is circulated rapidly throughout the body, applying it to the afflicted part brings quicker relief.
Between 10-100mg per day progesterone should be used, dependant on symptoms. Rubbing it directly on the breast/s is more effective. For more information see How to use progesterone cream.
Before using progesterone it's essential to read the page on Oestrogen Dominance first.
Oestrogen suppressing drugs are commonly used to treat man boobs. Tamoxifen, clomiphene, androgens (testosterone) and aromatase inhibitors such as letrozole and anastrozole. The enzyme aromatase converts androgens into oestrogen, which then bind to the oestrogen receptor, causing the cells to divide. Although officially these drugs are used for women, off-label prescribing is increasing in men with excess oestrogen (particularly oestradiol, the most active oestrogen). Some men who use steroids for increased performance or body building, take aromatase inhibitors to prevent symptoms of excess oestrogen, eg. man boobs, BHP, water retention and hypogonadism.
An alternative to drugs is surgery, either removing the gland or liposuction. Medical insurance companies often regard surgery for male breast removal as cosmetic, so don't cover it. Male breast reduction surgery is the fastest growing procedure in plastic surgery in England. The British Association of Plastic Surgeons reported 581 men with man boobs had breast reductions in 2009, an increase of 80% over the previous year. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons estimate 18,000 men in the States had the surgery in 2008. It is in the top five cosmetic surgery procedures performed on males. Of these men, 14,203 were between the ages of thirteen to nineteen, a 79% increase in adolescent surgery since 2003.
All meat and vegetables should be organic. The diet should contain no oxidised and refined oils and fats, but be high in the essential fatty acids (EFA's) found in oily fish, omega 3 fish oils and flax. Omega 3 found in oily fish is so vital to health no one should be without it. It is an essential fatty acid, which means we cannot make it so we have to obtain it from food, unfortunately the diet we eat has virtually none left, due to the processing and refining of foods. Include fibre, in particular that found in green leafy vegetables. Additional soluble fibre can be added, as in ground flax seeds, pectin, guar gum, xanthum gum and psyllium.
The following herbs and spices help the liver to detox the body or have anti-cancer properties: milk thistle, turmeric, cayenne pepper, ginger, astragalus, echinacea, sutherlandia, green tea and olive leaf extract. Calcium D-glucarate has been shown to inhibit beta glucuronidase, which prevents glucuronidation. Glucuronidation is responsible for removing excess levels of oestradiol and testosterone.
As a substitute for sugar use xylitol, erythritol or stevia. Stevia is a natural extract from the plant Stevia rebaudiana, a member of the daisy family, native to Paraguay. The extract is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar, but has none of the drawbacks and does not affect blood sugar in any way. The fresh or dried leaves are easier to use and taste better. Xylitol and erythritol are sugar alcohols, which look and taste like sugar, but are metabolized by the body at a much slower rate, they have respectively 2.4 and 0.0 calories per gram. They cannot be used by oral bacteria, so do not contribute to tooth decay. A drawback is their high cost. If used in large quantities xylitol can cause flatulence and have a laxative affect, unlike erythritol which is absorbed into the blood stream before reaching the large intestine.
Drink only filtered water. As water is now contaminated with oestrogen from HRT and The Pill, plus the oestrogen mimics generated by industry, men and women are increasingly subject to an excess, and with this comes an increase in the oestrogen related cancers, breast, prostate, testicular, ovarian and cervical and of course an increased incidence of man boobs.
The following are some eating plans recommended when reducing the effects of man boobs:
BBC 31 January 2011
Increase in male breast reduction surgery
Emory University, Atlanta, GA 2010. 02. 20
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Assessment of a Suction-Assisted Cartilage Shaver Plus Liposuction for the Treatment of man boobs
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An Unusual Case of Gynecomastia Associated with Soy Product Consumption
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Non-classical 21-hydroxylase deficiency in boys with prepubertal or pubertal man boobs
Hum. Reprod. Advance Access published online on July 23, 2008
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Progesterone reduces erectile dysfunction in sleep-deprived spontaneously hypertensive rats
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Gynecomastia and Premature Thelarche
Liposuction Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Axillary Approach in Suction-Assisted Lipectomy of Gynecomastia
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Involvement of phosphoinositide-3-kinase and phospholipase C transduction systems in the non-genomic action of progesterone in vascular tissue
The Endocrinologist: March/April 2006 - Volume 16 - Issue 2 - pp 109-115
Man boobs: An Update
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Does male sexual behavior require progesterone?
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Progesterone Shows Promise as Treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury
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Testosterone replacement therapy and prostate risks: where's the beef?
Endocrine Research 2005, Vol. 31, No. 3, Pages 219-227
Possible Involvement of Aromatase Overexpression Induced by Cyclo-Oxygenase-2 in the Pathogenesis of Idiopathic Gynecomastia
Experimental Neurology Volume 193, Issue 2, June 2005, Pages 522-530
Progesterone suppresses the inflammatory response and nitric oxide synthase-2 expression following cerebral ischemia
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Progesterone regulation of catecholamine secretion from chromaffin cells.
The Aging Male , Volume 7, Issue 3 September 2004 , pages 236 - 257 /
Progesterone: the forgotten hormone in men?
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Treatment of testosterone-induced gynecomastia with the aromatase inhibitor, anastrozole
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: February 2003 - Volume 111 - Issue 2 - pp 909-923
Classification and Management of Gynecomastia: Defining the Role of Ultrasound-Assisted Liposuction
From New Scientist Print Edition.18 April 2001
Sun block: Gender-bending chemicals that mimic the effect of oestrogen are common in sunscreens.
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Successful Percutaneous Dihydrotestosterone Treatment of Gynecomastia Occurring during Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy: Four Cases and a Review of the Literature
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Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) A and B receptors mediate the stimulatory effects of GABA on the human sperm acrosome reaction: interaction with progesterone
The Endocrinologist: March 1996 - Volume 6 - Issue 2
Adenocarcinoma of the Male Breast after Spironolactone-Induced Gynecomastia: Case Report
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Aromatase and steroid receptors in gynecomastia and male breast carcinoma: an immunohistochemical study
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Progesterone reduces sympathetic tone without changing blood pressure or fluid balance in men.
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Decreased responsiveness to progesterone of spermatozoa in oligozoospermic patients
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Progesterone-evoked increases in sperm [Ca2+]i correlate with the egg penetrating ability of sperm from fertile but not infertile men.
International Urology and Nephrology Issue Volume 24, Number 2 / March, 1992
In vitro study of rat prostate 5alpha-reductase activity and its inhibition
Archives of Dermatological Research Volume 276, Number 6 / September, 1984
The local antiandrogenic effect of the intracutaneous injection of progesterone in the flank organ of sexually mature male syrian golden hamster
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Pubertal man boobs and Transient Elevation of Serum Estradiol Level
The Journal of Pediatrics Volume 86, Issue 2, February 1975, Pages 212-215
The relationship of concentrations of serum hormones to pubertal gynecomastia
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Gynecomastia in the newborn induced by maternal milk? An unusual complication of oral contraceptives