Gynecomastia, also known as man boobs or male breasts, is a common problem that can affect men of all ages. Many men feel embarrassed, self-conscious, or worried about their breast tissue. Fortunately, it does not have to be a life-long struggle. The first step to solving the problem is to understand why it occurs. In many cases, an unhealthy liver is one of the common causes of gynecomastia.
What Causes Gynecomastia?
At some points across the lifespan, it’s common and normal for men to have some breast tissue. For example, many boys develop man boobs during adolescence. However, in these cases, the breast tissue should go away on its own within a few months. If you have been frustrated and concerned about having man boobs for several months or years, it may be a sign of an underlying health problem.
There are many causes of gynecomastia. Problems with the kidneys or thyroid can cause man boobs, and some people with adrenal or testicular tumors develop male breast tissue. Certain medications can also cause gynecomastia as a side effect. However, a very common cause of man boobs is dysfunction of the liver.
The liver plays a vital role in your overall health and wellbeing, and it plays a role in a number of illnesses and health conditions. The liver’s job is to filter the blood and remove toxins from the body.
A properly-functioning liver in a male will detoxify estrogen, which keeps the levels of estrogen and testosterone in balance. The liver contains a series of enzymes known as Phase One and Phase Two enzymes. These compounds detoxify poisons, turning them into water-soluble, harmless particles. During this process, the liver also breaks down and clears away excess estrogen. When the liver is struggling to complete this task, excess estrogen will build up in the body, leading to gynecomastia.
Causes of Liver Damage
There are several problems that can affect the liver and impair its functioning. One common ailment is an inflamed liver, which can happen as a result of excessive alcohol consumption or as a side effect of certain drugs. For example, certain high blood pressure medications, high cholesterol medications, antidepressants, and antibiotics can cause inflammation of the liver, preventing it from completing its usual functions.
Another name for liver inflammation is hepatitis. In some cases, this is caused from a viral infection. Other times, hepatitis results from an autoimmune disorder. The inflammation can range from mild to severe.
Another common problem is fatty liver, which is a buildup of fat in the organ. The two main types of fatty liver are nonalcohol fatty liver disease and alcoholic fatty liver disease. Both can affect the liver’s functioning, so both can lead to gynecomastia.
Man boobs can also be caused by cirrhosis, which is late-stage scarring of the liver. Cirrhosis can occur as a result of hepatitis and fatty liver disease if the conditions progress for long enough without treatment. This condition can severely impair your liver, leading to hormone imbalances and other health problems.
Being overweight or obese can affect the liver and lead to gynecomastia, too. Fat cells, especially abdominal fat cells, contain aromatase, which is an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen. The more fat you have, the more estrogen your body will have.
Lifestyle effects on Liver & Gynecomastia
There are also some lifestyle and environmental factors that can cause you to develop breast tissue. Some chemicals and foods contain endocrine disruptors, which are also known as estrogen disruptors. These compounds act like estrogen when they’re processed by the liver, so being exposed to them can lead to gynecomastia. Common sources of endocrine disruptors include pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, and foods with soy.
Another dietary problem linked to gynecomastia is consuming too many carbohydrates. When you eat a large quantity of carbs, your body experiences a spike in insulin. If this happens regularly for a long time, it can cause fat or scar tissue to develop in the liver.
Solutions to Gynecomastia
The first step in getting rid of your man boobs is determining the underlying cause. Most liver problems don’t have many noticeable symptoms, so you should speak to your doctor about your concerns. Your doctor can perform tests of your liver functioning to see if something is wrong. Then, depending on the results of their tests, they can recommend medical treatments and lifestyle changes that will help improve the health of your liver.
One way you can boost your liver health is with diet changes. Intermittent fasting, an eating pattern that involves alternating periods of fasting and periods of eating, is another good option. You should consult your doctor before making any major changes to your diet.
Eating more cruciferous vegetables is another great way to balance of the levels of estrogen in your body. Cruciferous vegetables include kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, radishes, and arugula. These plants detoxify estrogen and improve estrogen metabolism, so they’re an excellent option for naturally restoring a healthy hormone balance.
Gynecomastia can be a frustrating, embarrassing problem. However, there are plenty of possible solutions. If you have male breast tissue, you should speak to your doctor about finding the underlying cause and making healthy lifestyle changes to get rid of your man boobs and restore your self-confidence. If you are feeling self-conscious about your gynecomastia, we offer great solutions to that you can wear to reduce the appearance of puffy nipples and flatten your large chest.