ZocdocAnswersCan a hormonal imbalance cause men to develop breasts?

Question

Can a hormonal imbalance cause men to develop breasts?

I have a normal weight and no other kind of problem with fat in my body. But I do have fat in my breasts and I'm a 30 year old male. It is very strange. Could it be from a hormonal imbalance?

Answer

Enlargement of the breast tissue in males is a condition that is also known as gynecomastia. It affects up to two-thirds of pubescent boys and half of all men. Male breast enlargement that arises in puberty often resolves on its own as hormone levels normalize. On the other hand, when the condition arises in adulthood, it tends to persist because men tend to lose testosterone and gain weight as they age which contributes to pseudogynecomastia, or enlargement as a result of deposits of fatty tissue under the breasts that can produce small amounts of estrogen. In general, gynecomastia has been attributed to an imbalance of sex hormones due to an increased estrogen action in the breast tissue or a drop of a testosterone level while estrogen levels remain constant as a result of inadequate nutrition. Although gynecomastia is generally a benign condition and a large proportion of cases are idiopathic (meaning the cause is unknown), the evidence of it after adolescence may also be a serious underlying disorder, such as low testosterone, an overactive thyroid, kidney failure, cirrhosis of the liver, a genetic abnormality, or cancers. Some cancers involving the testes, adrenal glands, or pituitary glands can trigger the production of hormones that alter the male-female hormone balance. As you can see, there are numerous causes of gynecomastia that I would suggest a visit with a primary care physician who can order tests to evaluate your condition and/or may refer you to an endocrinologist for further work-up and treatment.

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