The term “gynecomastia” or “enlarged male breasts” is a combination of two words; the word “Gyne” means “woman” and “mastos” means “breast” in Greek. Accordingly, gynecomastia is enlargement of the male breast tissue. Gynecomastia, a benign (non-cancerous) enlargement of the male breast due to proliferation of the gland, is a common clinical condition and affects an estimated 40 to 60 percent of men. In 75% of the cases, it occurs on both sides (breasts). The tissue could be as small as 1 cm or as large as a female breast.
Gynecomastia is a common condition. Estimates for the total number affected are as high as 40 per cent. The cause of gynecomastia is not generally known and can cause significant anxiety, social inhibition and self-consciousness for men who suffer from this condition.
Types / grading of gynecomastia
Type 1 (pubertal gynecomastia): It is defined as enlargement less than 3-4 cm
Type 2: It is defined as enlargement greater than 3-4 cm (pubertal macromastia)
Are you at risk of gynecomastia?
Thanks to a higher incidence of obesity, rampant steroid abuse, and a growing list of medications with estrogen, more men are experiencing adult-onset gynecomastia.
Obesity: Obesity, itself, can lead to gynecomastia in dual way; first, it causes deposition of fat in the tissues and muscles, all over the body including those of chest. Secondly, obesity can cause hormonal imbalance which is itself a cause of gynecomastia.
Puberty / Teenage: Gynecomastia is common during mid to late puberty as more estrogen than testosterone is produced by the maturing testis before testosterone production by the testes ‘kicks in’ and reaches adult levels. Symptoms typically disappear as adolescence wanes and raging hormones subside.
Certain drugs: Medications that can promote breast growth in men include certain antidepressants, drugs used for high blood pressure and tuberculosis, as well as some chemotherapy drugs. Antibiotics, anti-ulcer and cardiovascular medications have sometimes been found to affect the balance of hormones in the body. Drug abuse, especially the use of anabolic steroids, but also marijuana, opioids and excessive alcohol that has led to chronic liver disease can cause gynecomastia.