Why the Risk of Gynecomastia Increases After Age 50

Gynecomastia, or the enlargement of breast tissue is men, is more common than many people believe, but that doesn’t make it any less distressing when it occurs. It frequently happens during puberty, but it also common in men over the age of 50. Fortunately, gynecomastia treatment in Manhattan is available, including surgery to remove enlarged tissue. If you’re over 50 and suffering from gynecomastia, here is a look at some of the potential causes. doctor - patient

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes are at the root of many cases of gynecomastia. For men over 50, decreases in testosterone levels create an imbalance between testosterone and estrogen that encourages breast tissue to grow. Obesity can also contribute to this imbalance. Men with excess body weight have a higher level of an enzyme called aromatase, which converts testosterone into estrogen, prompting the growth of breast tissue. Note that weight alone doesn’t cause gynecomastia. Breast enlargement in men that is strictly the result of weight gain is called pseudogynecomastia and can be resolved through weight loss and liposuction. Other conditions that can cause hormone-related gynecomastia are hyperthyroidism, chronic kidney disease, chronic liver disease, and certain types of tumors.

Medications

Certain medications that men often take after age 50 increase the risk of gynecomastia. These include some common anti-anxiety, heart, and ulcer medications. Tricyclic antidepressants can also be to blame. Men who undergo hormonal therapy for prostate cancer have a higher risk of developing gynecomastia, as well as men who receive certain types of chemotherapy. Illicit drugs are also associated with gynecomastia, including methadone, heroin, amphetamines, marijuana, and anabolic steroids.

Alcoholism

Alcohol abuse can caused damage to the testes, which in turn compromises the body’s ability to produce testosterone. Likewise, the phytoestrogens in alcohol also increase the level of estrogen in the body. These factors together imbalance the testosterone to estrogen ratio in the body and encourage the growth of breast tissue.