Does Cannabis Consumption Cause Breast Enlargement in Men?

Even though marijuana has been linked to gynecomastia (commonly known as man boobs) for decades, little to no evidence is available to make the aforementioned statement a fact.

No facts link cannabis to man boobs 

Cannabis would probably be one of the most controversial drugs of all times. Throughout its long-standing presence in the midst of the many communities that have borne and exploited its presence, cannabis has been attributed multiple health benefits, but also countless drawbacks. While some push forward that hemp-derived products would help combat Epidermis Bullosa, anxiety, and chronic pain induced by cancer, others claim that marijuana consumption could trigger erectile dysfunction, cancer, and even gynecomastia - a phenomenon commonly referred to as the growth of "man boobs" or "moobs".

In the case of the latter, evidence lacks. However, unfounded statements linking marijuana and cannabis have constantly been thrown around for decades, influencing how many see the drug today. In fact, a common deterrent used by those who are against the consumption of cannabis is that "men are likely to grow breasts if they intake the substance on a frequent basis." But would this actually be true? Are men likely to develop "men boobs" or "moobs" as they indulge in regular cannabis consumption? The answer to this question would definitely require an in-depth analysis of the data available up to now.  

Gynecomastia is a biological phenomenon naturally present in men

From what is known of the gynecomastia phenomenon, links to cannabis consumption are seriously lacking. In fact, the said growth of "men boobs" or "moobs" would occur naturally in most cases, with the majority of males experiencing the phenomenon at birth or during adolescence. Contrary to popular belief, gynecomastia only concerns the growth of skin on a male's bust, and not the development of fat around the said region. The cutaneous development at hand would be mostly influenced by imbalances in testosterone and estrogen. While this kind of hormonal disturbance can be caused by trivial happenings such as growth in young boys, anxiety in adolescent males, and the decline of testosterone in older males, various ailments - including but not limited to Klinefelter syndrome and certain types of cancers - have been said to induce gynecomastia as well. Cannabis, on the other hand, is absent from most cases of documented gynecomastia.

Here is an overview of the medication that can potentially cause gynecomastia

  • Anti-androgens utilized in the treatment of prostate enlargement, prostate cancer, and some other conditions have been reported to Gynecomastia. A few good examples of such substances would include flutamide, finasteride, and spironolactone.
  • Anabolic steroids and androgens.
  • AIDS medication can actually induce gynecomastia in HIV-positive men who are undergoing treatments such as the highly active antiretroviral therapy - or HAART. Efavirenz - or Sustiva - is commonly associated with gynecomastia, as compared with other AIDS medications.
  • Anti-anxiety medications, such as diazepam or Valium.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants.
  • Antibiotics.
  • Ulcer medications, such as cimetidine, also referred to as Tagamet HB.
  • Cancer treatment, or chemotherapy
  • Heart medications, such as digoxin - or Lanoxin - and calcium channel blockers.
  • Gastric motility medications, such as metoclopramide, also called Reglan.

You will notice that the above list comprises no cannabinoid components. 

There is a lot of speculation

Hemp is truly an intriguing plant. While it has been used in myriads of applications for thousands of years across the globe, new discoveries surrounding cannabis are constantly being made. At the time of writing, around 480 chemicals have been isolated and identified in cannabis. Scientists and physicians are still unraveling the various effects that specific cannabinoids can have on the human body. Taking this into consideration, one can easily infer that new data about the components of cannabis could potentially change the way we view the latter's relationship with gynecomastia. However, for the moment, nothing more than speculation and dubious evidence exist to back up links between the drug and the biological phenomenon.

Rumors were spread from fraudsters

When it comes to speculation and rumors, both cannabis and gynecomastia have had their share. In 2013, for instance, media network CNN reported a link between marijuana consumption and breast enlargement in males as actual news. To support their story, the news giant based themselves on claims made by plastic surgeon Dr. Anthony Youn. Taking inspiration from a study carried out in 2002, the surgeon took the mention of a "plausible link between Gynecomastia and cannabis" to a whole new level. For him, there would definitely be a link between the two. The surgeon's line of business often brings him to perform breast ablation in men to correct gynecomastia, and as many other specialists of his kind, Anthony Youn often esquires about the cannabis consumption of those of his clients sporting a robust bust.

The hormonal mechanism under the influence of cannabis is not fully understood

Even though we do not much information about what happens to our hormones when we consume cannabis, light has been shed on part of the mechanism in question.

"Although estrogen receptor binding activity was observed in crude marijuana extract, marijuana smoke condensate, and several known components of cannabis, direct estrogenic activity of cannabis extract could not be demonstrated," published The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics in February of 1983. In other words, even though cannabis contains estrogen receptors, their influence on the human body upon consumption cannot be directly related to Gynecomastia.

Extrapolations should not be made

Given that the matter is yet to be elucidated, we should not rush to conclusions. Instead, it would be better to wait for pellucid data in order to further comment about the relationship of gynecomastia and cannabis. Instead, one could focus on the multiple health benefits that the drug packs.

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