MOOBS is an urban slang and shortened term for “Man Boobs”, while the formal medical definition is known as “gynecomastia”. This is a condition in which the male breast tissue becomes enlarged. This is an unfortunately common condition affecting 40-60 percent of adult men at some point in their lives. The condition is most common in adolescent boys and older men, and its prevalence increases with age.
Gynecomastia can be caused by:
- a hormonal imbalance
- liver disease
- certain medications
- or other medical conditions.
We are seeing an increase in the diagnosis over the last several years due to environmental and dietary influences that have a negative impact on men’s exposure to estrogens.
These include some plastic products that contain endocrine disrupting chemicals, including estrogens that can leach into food and beverages stored in plastic containers. These estrogens can mimic the effects of the hormones in the body and lead to hormonal imbalances, affecting reproductive and developmental processes. To minimize exposure, it is recommend to use glass or stainless steel containers instead of plastic and to avoid heating food in plastic containers.
Animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs can contain estrogen and other hormones that are given to animals for growth promotion or to increase milk production. These hormones can leach into the animal products and potentially affect human hormone levels and overall health. To minimize exposure, it is recommended to choose organic or hormone-free animal products and to consume a balanced diet that includes plant-based foods.
Another lesser known but very causative source of estrogen exposure is through hops in beer. Hops, a key ingredient in beer brewing, contain phytoestrogens which are compounds that mimic the effects of estrogen in the human body. Research suggests that phytoestrogens in hops may contribute to an increased level of estrogen in the body, potentially leading to hormonal imbalances and an increased risk of conditions such as gynecomastia. Microbreweries have grown in popularity in recent years as consumers seek out unique and locally crafted beer options. Microbreweries often have a greater variety of beer styles including a higher amount of hops in their recipes. Microbreweries continue to grow in popularity across North American and Europe which has led to an overall higher hops exposure in the average male beer drinking population.
Treatment options include the above lifestyle changes, medication or surgery. Consult with your naturopathic physician for a proper diagnosis, hormone testing and treatment advice.