Manboobs or Gynecomastia-Causes and Top 10 Natural Remedies
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Manboobs or Gynecomastia--Causes and Top 10 Natural Remedies

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December 6, 2010, Last Updated January 9, 2015
By AN LEE, Contributing Columnist

Male enlarged breasts, technically called "gynecomastia", is a growing problem in the US and around the world. According to 1979 estimates from the University of Minnesota's Department of Medicine, up to 36% of adult men in America suffer from this condition. Your risk of having enlarged breasts increases as you age, especially if you experience male menopause. The same University of Minnesota study, led by Dr. Frank Nuttall, discovered that 57% of men over the age of 44 experience some degree of gynecomastia. 

Unusually enlarged breasts on men can cause severe emotional challenges. Having breasts, in our culture, means you are a woman.  Teasing and embarrassment from having enlarged breasts can lead to episodes of depression in teenage boys and young men.

Frustrated with the problem, an increasing number of men are turning to breast reduction surgery, according to the BBC.  Rates of such male breast reduction surgery have increased by 33% in the UK  in 2010. But are there any natural remedies for male enlarged breasts, colloquially known as "man boobs"? Are there any foods or products men should avoid to prevent gynecomastia? And, what causes gynecomastia in the first place?

Causes of Gynecomastia

The causes of gynecomastia are varied and in some cases, unknown. Gynecomastia can be caused by medications, exposure to estrogen or substances that mimic estrogen, or injury to your testicals. Here is the complete list of possible causes of enlarged breasts in men, based on current medical research:

1.Cancer, in particular, cancers of the lungs, stomach (gastric carcinoma), kidney (renal carcinoma) and pituitary tumors

2. Exposure to lead

3. Exposure to certain household products (we discuss these in more detail below)

4. Klinefelter syndrome

5.Congenital anorchia

6.Testicular trauma

7.Testicular torsion

8. Viral orchitis

9. Kallmann syndrome - A form of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, Kallmann syndrome is usually associated with varying degrees of abnormality in olfactory perception. This results from the defective migration of gonadotropin-releasing hormone-secreting cells (which comigrate with the cells of the olfactory epithelium) during embryogenesis.

10. Thyroid disorders, in particular underactive thyroid(Hyperthyroidism)

11. Malnutrition

12. Androgen insensitivity syndrome

13. Certain drugs and Medications. The list is long, and includes, ketoconazole, metronidazole, alkylating agents, cisplatin, spironolactone, cimetidine, flutamide, finasteride, etomidate, isonicotinic acid hydrazide, methyldopa, busulfan, tricyclic antidepressants, diazepam, penicillamine, omeprazole, phenothiazines, calcium channel blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, alcohol, marijuana, and heroin.

14. Obesity. Obesity alone can cause enlarged male breasts, since breasts are over 95% fat. One of the most shocking camera shots from the popular NBC television series "The Biggest Loser" are the images of the C-cup or D-cup sized breasts that develop in many morbidly-obese men who compete on the show.

Common Lotions and Products That Cause Gynecomastia

Researchers have in fact identified certain common household products  as key contributors to gynecomastia.  A 2007 study from researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences discovered that household products containing 2 essential oils --- tea tree oil and lavender oil ---are strongly linked with male enlarged breasts.  The study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, confirmed the clinical findings of a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Colorado.

Apparently, lavender oil and tea tree oil mimic the action of estrogen. These essential oils, like the female hormone estrogen, block the male hormone androgen. Several months after stopping the use of the oils, the boys in the study saw their breasts start to return to normal size.
Based on this study and the earlier observations of the Colorado physician, the researchers from the National Institutes of Health have advised that tea tree oil and lavender oil may now be considered "endocrine disruptors", meaning they disrupt the normal interactions of hormones in our bodies. Doctors with male patients with enlarged breasts are now advised to discourage the men or boys from using tea tree oil or lavender oil.

Based on the above research, we have compiled this list of natural remedies to help reduce your risk of gynecomastia

To 10 Natural Remedies for Gynecomastia

1. Avoid Tea Tree Oil and Lavender Oil.

Here's the problem. Many household products contain tea tree oil or lavender oil. Lavender is a common scenting ingredient, used in colognes, body sprays, hair sprays, lotions, after shave lotions, and hair gels , to name a few. Tea tree oil has become increasing popular as a home remedy for a range of problems including skin conditions such as psoriasis.

So, if you are a man or by suffering from enlarged male breasts, you have to carefully screen every product that comes into contact with your body. You have to make sure that no product you use on your body, your face, your hair contains any amount of tea tree oil or lavender oil.

2. Avoid Exposure to Lead and Other Pollution.

Certain pollutants have been linked to gynecomastia. In particular, high levels of lead strongly increase your risk of developing larger breasts. A 2007 Flemish study of 1679 adolescents, aged 14-15 years, found that high levels of lead encouraged breast development in males. On the other hand, high levels of hexachlorobenzene in the blood decreased the risk.

3. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight.

Men who maintain a healthy body weight have a dramatically reduced risk for gynecomastia. What is your ideal body weight? It depends on your size and muscularity. Here is a chart of normal body weight for men of different heights.

4. Push-ups and Other Chest toning Exercises. Push-ups not only help to build your biceps and triceps. They are an excellent and effective exercise for toning your pectoral muscles, which help to lift your chest vertically and diminish the appearance of enlarged breasts. Push-ups alone will not eliminate gynecomastia if your case is caused by exposure to endocrine disruptors such as tea tree oil or lavender oil.

5. Avoid Eating Soy Products. Soy foods contain phyto-estrogens which can disrupt male androgen levels and encourage gynecomastia.

6. Use  Strength-Training to Improve Overall Muscle Tone As You Age. In addition to eating to maintain a healthy body weight, you must increase strength training to combat the natural loss of muscle --and muscle tone--as you age. Add yoga, weights such as Kettle bells and lifelong sports such as golf or tennis to your fitness routines.

7. Avoid Excess Salt. Salt makes your body retain fluids generally and helps to increase the appearance of puffiness and fullness in the fatty tissues around your chest.

8. Consider Testosterone Creams. Under your doctor's supervision, consider re-setting your endocrine balance by using products to increase the levels of androgens (male hormones) and decrease the levels of estrogen (female hormones) in your body.

9. Eat Fish and Other Foods High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Diets high in omega-3 fatty acids increase testosterone production. A study from the University of Alberta found that mice fed diets high in omega-3 fatty acids had higher levels of testicular testosterone. as the study's lead researcher noted:"Feeding diets high in cholesterol or fish oil increased basal and LH-stimulated testosterone synthesis relative to that in animals fed the low cholesterol diet containing linseed oil."

10. Eat Foods that Increase Your Testosterone Levels. Zinc and certain other foods have been found to naturally increase testosterone. Numerous studies have linked zinc deficiency in your diet with decreased levels of testosterone. A 1996 study from Wayne State Medical School found that restricting zinc from the diets of men made their testosterone levels drop by up to 74% after just 20 weeks. And, supplementing the diets of elderly men with zinc increased their testosterone levels by 92% in the same period. What are the signs of zinc deficiency? One of the common signs of zinc deficiency are white spots under your fingernails (Read more about important clues your fingernails give about your health).

Which foods are high in zinc? Oysters have some of the highest levels of zinc, as do the following foods:

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Milligrams of Zinc Per Serving
Percentage of the Recommended Daily Value Per Serving

oysters, 6 average sized

beef shanks, 3 ounces cooked

Crab, Alaskan King, 3 ounces,cooked

Breakfast cereal, zinc fortified-25% level

Chicken leg, roasted

Pork Tenderloin, 3 ounces

Lobster, 3 ounces

Baked beans, half a cup

Cashews, 1 ounce

Yogurt, 1 cup

Raisin bran, 3/4 cup

Chickpeas, 1/2 cup

Cheese, Swiss


Milk, 1 cup

Chicken breast, half the skin removed

Cheese, Cheddar or Mozzarella,1 ounce

Kidney beans, 1/2 cup

Peas, boiled, 1/2 cup

Oatmeal, instant, 1 pack

Flounder, 3 ounces

Hot dog, 1 average

hamburger, size of your palm

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