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Blog. Man Boob Causes: From Serious to Silly

As one of the earliest and most frequent participants in the forums, we’ve answered hundreds and hundreds of patient questions over the years. Lots of guys want to know what caused their man boobs. In our view, the question is often moot, as once gynecomastia occurs it’s here to stay. No amount of exercise, dieting, pills or creams can make it go away. Surgery is the one and only solution.

But we do understand why guys who visit the forums and patients in our gynecomastia consulting room want to know the origin of their condition. Many want to consider whether there’s something they can do to banish the moobs without surgery (there isn’t). Some want to know if they should feel guilty for causing their breasts to grow. Some are worried their moobs will reappear after surgery (they won’t).

So, in an effort to answer some questions and perhaps give you a chuckle, here are some replies to frequent questions about what causes man boobs.

Steroids: Yes, and no. Anabolic steroids, used by those who want to build muscles, are synthetic versions of testosterone. We see dozens of guys with gynecomastia every year who have grown a set of breasts due to taking these substances and related “pro-hormones.” They can trigger man boobs because excess testosterone is converted to estrogen in the body, and because when the body senses it has enough testosterone, it tends to shut down production.

There’s another class of steroids, corticosteroids such as prednisone, that are used to calm inflammation. There’s no link between corticosteroids and man boobs.

Prescription drugs: Sometimes. There are many drugs that can cause breast growth. Some that have this particular side effect are fairly well known, such as Finasteride (prescribed for hair loss). Risperdal, a medication prescribed for mood disorders, has become fairly well known for causing male breast growth because the manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, has been very publicly sued by both individual patients and states.

Other drugs associated with man boobs are prescribed to treat diseases such as HIV/AIDS and cancer. Obviously if you have a life-threatening condition, enlarged breasts will not be at the top of your worry list. But, be advised that manufacturers sometimes make light of the risk and worse, hide it altogether. So when you’re considering a new medication, it does pay to do all the research you can.

Fast food: No, fast food does not cause gynecomastia, at least directly. We wrote about fast food and man boobs some time ago, in response to a theory developed in China that a patient grew one-sided gynecomastia due to heavy consumption of fast food. One way fast food can contribute to a case of moobs is through obesity. When a guy packs on the pounds, his breasts will often grow due to excess fatty tissue and the gland tissue it triggers. A person who eats fast food but keeps his weight in check should not develop enlarged breasts.

Plant-based foods and cosmetics: Maybe. Many plants contain what are known as “phytoestrogens” – substances that mimic the effects of estrogen, albeit weakly. Foods that are good sources of phytoestrogens include beans, nuts, seeds, root vegetables and herbs. Lavender and tea tree oil used in the cosmetic industry also contain phytoestrogens.

Consuming normal amounts of phytoestrogens as most of us do is thought to be beneficial. Overconsumption may not be a good idea for women at risk of certain cancers, says There’s anecdotal information suggesting that heavy consumption of soy products or heavy use of lavender and tea tree oil can lead to man boobs, but this has not been proven.

Beer: No! You may be glad to know that beer doesn’t cause gynecomastia. Even if your favorite is a very hoppy version—and yes, hops contain phytoestrogens too—you would have to drink an incredible amount to even worry about it. Undoubtedly you would have other problems before you ever grew a set of moobs due to beer.

Marijuana: Maybe. Marijuana is another phytoestrogen-rich plant, and though there have been no scientific studies proving that consumption can lead to man boobs, there’s enough anecdotal evidence to be cautious. For our gynecomastia patients, we advise stopping the use of marijuana. After an investment in man boob surgery, it’s just not worth the risk.

Masturbation: No. Just no.

Since you’ve been thinking about what may have caused your case of man boobs, are you also thinking about surgery to fix the condition? If so, consider gynecomastia surgery with us. We know how to get the results you’re hoping for—we have more than thirty years’ experience to prove it!
Give us a call today at 561-367-9101.


Dr. Elliot William Jacobs is a board-certified aesthetic plastic surgeon who specializes in FTM top surgery, gynecomastia surgery, revision gynecomastia surgery and male breast reduction. He is a native of New York and has over 40 years of experience in his field. Dr. Jacobs is a highly respected and sought-after surgeon who is known for his skill, experience, and compassion. Whether you are interested in gynecomastia for the first time, or are looking to correct a gynecomastia you aren’t happy with, Dr. Jacobs can deliver amazing results.


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