Men's Breast Health

Men and boys can develop gynecomastia (enlargement of the breast tissue), which is caused by an imbalance of hormones (testosterone and estrogen). It is often noticed as a swelling in the chest, and in the nipple area, but may be felt as a lump. It is usually tender and can involve one or both breasts. It is a benign (non cancerous) condition, which in boys, does not require treatment and usually subsides within 6 to 24 months. In some cases, where there is significant discomfort, which limits activity and has persisted for several months, the extra breast tissue can be removed surgically. An ultrasound of the breast, and sometimes a mammogram, can be helpful in diagnosing gynecomastia.

CAUSES: There are a number of medications that can affect the balance of testosterone and estrogen in men, causing gynecomastia, specifically, androgens, anti-androgens, tricyclic antidepressants, and certain HIV preparations. Street drugs including marijuana, heroin, amphetamines and anabolic steroids can also cause gynecomastia. The breast enlargement typically subsides after the drug is removed from the system. Lastly, medical conditions that interfere with testosterone production can produce gynecomastia, including hypogonadism (under-developed testes), hyperthyroidism, kidney failure and cirrhosis of the liver.