Saturday, August 17, 2013

Gynecomastia - Men and Hormone Imbalance

This evening as I sat down to hop on my laptop, the television is on and another commercial airs over drug side effects and lawsuits pending against the drug companies.  I don't recall the drug name, but the attorneys running the ad were looking for males who had been treated for Gynecomastia, or enlarged breasts in boys and males. Effects of the drug included serious conditions (which seems to be the norm if you read the fine print on prescription drugs doled out on a daily basis).
My ears always perk up when any condition is an obvious result of hormone imbalance. Enlarged breasts in males screams "too much estrogen" in my mind.  Because I study hormone imbalance constantly - it is obvious to me, but may not be obvious to a doctor, or I should clarify that to say, treating the cause with a natural remedy is often not obvious, when training and education focus on prescription drugs to treat symptoms.
Interestingly, drugs prescribed for Gynecomastia are drugs prescribed for heartburn, high blood pressure and even foot fungus. That bit of information makes me scratch my head a bit...
How about looking at the cause of abnormal breast enlargement in males? Now, to be clear, this condition is not the same as fatty tissue deposits from being overweight.  Gynecomastia that occurs during puberty usually resolves without treatment within six months to two years. The condition sometimes develops between ages 10 and 12 years, and most commonly occurs between ages 13 and 14, and is uncommon for the condition to persist beyond age 17.
If you have been reading this blog for a while, you may know by now that male and females have the same hormones - of which there are a variety. It is the differences in amounts of a certain hormone that make us men or women. Balance is necessary or we can run into problems, for example, women with excess testosterone might experience hair loss on top of her head, and excess hair growth above and below the lips. 
Gynecomastia can happen when the balance shifts, with an increase in estrogen or decrease in androgens. This can occur because of expected hormonal changes during puberty or aging, or because of the use of certain drugs or herbal products.  Skin care containing lotions with estrogenic properties may contribute to breast enlargement in males - herbs to be aware of include tea tree oil, lavendar and soy, per a report in the 2007 New England Journal of Medicine. 
Note that soy in diet of males, and a host of environmental estrogens (coined as xenoestrogen by Dr. John Lee) should be considered when determing the cause. Males should avoid soy milk, soy based protein shakes, infant males should NOT be fed soy based baby formula, which is banned in England because of its tendencies to create hormonal imbalance in boys. Soy producers and promoters will argue on this point, but if several European countries have mandated a law against soy in infant formula I personally believe there is credibility.
On this topic, Body Logic write, "Breast enlargement in men often occurs after the age of 50 and is frequently associated with andropause. Andropause causes testosterone levels to drop, which leaves less of the hormone available to balance out the estrogen. Increased estrogen production and severe hyperthyroidism can also cause the gynecomastia. Enlarged male breasts are more likely to occur in overweight men due to the effects that obesity has on the body. Furthermore, weight gain is also a symptom of andropause, so it is not uncommon for a man to experience both concurrently."
After reviewing environmental causes (lotions, exposure to pesticides, fertilizers, etc) for estrogen influx in the body, removing them; and diet has been addressed in attempts to bring hormones into balance and reduce enlarged breasts in males, bHRT may be considered.
Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy is the non-drug remedy, and to me, is the common sense approach. The Natural Progesterone Advisory Network provides a list of progesterone creams that the non-biased group has tested to be USP certified, absorbable and provides 20 mgs/dose.  Men over age 50 typically apply 5-10 mg of progesterone per dose. For men,  a USP certified progesterone cream that comes with a pre-metered pump, allows men to quickly apply without having to think too hard about the amount needed.

To your health,
Rita S.

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