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Moob Over, Blake

Leave it up to Blake Shelton to coin the new term, moobs, for his embarrassing condition known as gynecomastia or male breasts.

Male breasts can develop at any time. Typically, moobs developed during infancy and puberty tend to resolve on its own. Moobs developed between the ages of 50 and 80 don’t easily disappear with time.

Swollenness is usually caused by an imbalance of testosterone and estrogen. Medications, alcohol, recreational drugs, kidney or liver failure and malnutrition can also lead to the hormonal imbalance. What can you do? You can be like Blake and flaunt them at the American Country Music award show… or tell them to “moob over”!

Let’s review the most 2 common causes of moobs.

  • Declining testosterone levels
    As men age, testosterone levels decline. In matter of fact, at least 25% of men between the ages of 50 and 80 have moobs. Alcohol worsens the condition by inhibiting testosterone production. Without testosterone to offset the estrogenic stimulation, men are more likely to develop moobs.

  • Alcohol consumption
    Alcohol has a double whammy on moobs. Alcohol contains phytoestrogens which mimic estrogens resulting in a hormonal imbalance. Extra estrogenic stimulation can cause breast tissue to enlarge. I suppose those are two good reasons for women to drink!

How do I manage my moobs?

Unlike women, male breast enlargement isn’t desirable or pleasing to the eye and sometimes, they can be painful. There are two ways to manage this problem.

  • See your doctor
    After an examination, testing will be ordered to determine if there is any underlying condition (i.e. malnutrition, liver failure, kidney failure or tumors). Blood tests will measure hormone levels and determine if there is an imbalance. For hormonal imbalances, your doctor can prescribe medications to block hormone receptors and stop medications that can cause male breasts (as a side effect). If applicable, doctors will advise against excessive alcohol consumption and use of illegal drugs.
  • Consider cosmetic surgery
    As an alternative, your doctor can recommend cosmetic surgery such as liposuction to remove fat tissue. For a less invasive procedure, a mastectomy may be considered. In mastectomy, only breast glands are removed.

How do I prevent moobs?

  1. Maintain a healthy body weight with exercise and diet. Overweight patients have a lower testosterone level compared to non-overweight patients.
  2. Avoid medications that can contribute to moobs.
    • Cimetidine (Tagamet®) – a stomach acid reducer, available over-the-counter
    • Spironolactone – lowers blood pressure in patients with hypertension and congestive heart failure
    • Bicalutamide (Casodex®) – treats prostate cancer and hirsutism
    • Anti-psychotic medications (haloperidol, Risperdal®, Zyprexa®, etc.)
  3. Avoid illegal recreational substances.
  4. Alcohol can still be enjoyed but as always, enjoy it in moderation.

Aside from moobs, men are probably more concerned about the decline of their testosterone level. Your doctor can order a blood test to measure your total testosterone level. If there is an abnormally low result, then you may have testosterone deficiency.Testosterone deficiency can lead to other conditions such as impotence, lack of sex drive, depression, hair loss, body fat gain and osteoporosis which are far worse than male breasts. At this time, there are no testosterone supplements to help treat those conditions except for one- the low sex drive. There is a popular supplement called the horny goat weed (seriously). Horny goat weed or epimedium is a Chinese herb used to treat low libidos by increasing blood flow to the groin. Sound familiar? It should. That’s how Viagra® works.


The uneven balance of male and female hormones is the predominant reason for moobs. Prevent moobs by maintaining a healthy body weight with exercise and healthy diet. Refrain from excessive alcohol consumption and illegal substances. If moobs still develop, the underlying condition may be related to malnutrition, liver or kidney failure or testosterone deficiency. If testosterone deficiency is the cause, then it should be treated as it can lead to impotence, low sex drive, depression, hair loss, body fat gain and osteoporosis.

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About the Author

Dr. Karine Wong has over 12 years of clinical experience as a clinical hospital pharmacist, manager and lecturer. She has taught numerous pharmacotherapy lectures to nurses, medical interns and pharmacy students in Southern California. In 2013, she published Call Me Doctor, her first fiction novel. Currently, she contributes articles on www.rxeconsult.com, a website for healthcare professionals.


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