Gynecomastia is an enlargement of the breasts in men. This condition is not the same as having a fatty breast area from obesity. The breast tissue is firm in men with gynecomastia.This may occur in up to one-third of men. About 65% of boys will develop some degree of breast enlargement during puberty. This is normal and usually goes away by age 18.
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All men produce male and female hormones. Normally, men produce much more male hormones than female hormones. Gynecomastia is caused by an imbalance in the female and male hormones. The hormone imbalance can be caused by:
  • Adolescent puberty changes
  • Aging, especially in association with low testosterone levels
  • Certain genetic disorders causing low levels of testosterone
  • Certain medications, such as digoxin, spironolactone, cimetidine, and many others
  • Anabolic steroids used to enhance athletic performance in sports

Risk Factors

Gynecomastia is more common in adolescents or in men over age 50. Other factors that increase your chance of gynecomastia include:
  • Obesity
  • Excess alcohol consumption leading to liver cirrhosis
  • Chronic liver or kidney disease
  • Presence of a condition or medication that decreases androgen or estrogen production
  • Family history
  • Marijuana use
  • Hyperthyroidism—overactive thyroid gland
  • Tumors of the testicles, lung, stomach, liver, kidney, or pituitary gland

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