Could smoking marijuana and Indian cannabis cause gynecomastia?

Dr. Anthony Youn, is not just a plastic surgeon in Detroit, but also the writer of the book "In Stitches", a humorous memoir of his Asian and American origin, and his desire to become a doctor.
(CNN) – A young man in his 20s, let’s call him George, stands before me in the examination room.

"Dr Youn,” he says, “I have gynecomastia."

I notice a not so unknown odor coming from the young man. It reminds me of the same odor in a rock concert I had recently been to.

"How long have you had this problem, George?"

"It’s hard to say exactly, but it seems it’s getting worse.”

“George, the first thing you should do is stop smoking weed. Marijuana may be the cause of your condition.”

Gynecomastia is a problem affecting about 33-41% of all males aged 25-45 years. It is more frequent during puberty, affecting 60% of 14-year-old boys. It is also of interest that 55-60% of men aged 50 or over is also affected.

Even though gynecomastia resolves spontaneously in the majority of cases, within a few months or a few years, 23,000 men were subjected to breast correction surgery in 2012.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, it was the fifth most common aesthetic surgery in men. Gynecomastia is caused by the imbalance between testosterone and estrogens.

When the testosterone:estrogens ratio favors estrogens, then our body reacts by forming excess breast tissue. Studies on animals have shown that exposure to marijuana can reduce testosterone levels and size of testicles, and it can also lead to sperm morphological and functional anomalies.

In human, the consequences of marijuana in relation to testosterone an estrogen levels are not that clear.

Despite the fact that lower testosterone levels have been reported in long-term marijuana users compared to non users, not all studies support that. Few trials have studied the immediate association of marijuana with gynecomastia.
A 1972 report had made the initial connection between cannabis and gynecomastia. But this study contradicts a 1977 research performed by the US Army. Soldiers presented no association between smoking marijuana and gynecomastia. However, the study was limited, because of low sample size.

Legalizing marijuana in some states could facilitate investigators determine the exact cause of cannabis use at a hormonal level, in relation to gynecomastia and other body functions.

If there is a true link between smoking weed and gynecomastia, we should then wait for a gynecomastia therapy, at least in those countries where smoking marijuana is legal. According to the ASAPS, the number of men undergoing gynecomastia surgery at a national level has increased by almost 30% in 2011-2012. But, can smoking weed cause gynecomastia?

It is possible. Despite the fact that the link between marijuana and gynecomastia has not been proven with certainty, it seems quite possible. For this reason, the majority of plastic surgeons I have consulted recommend its immediate stop. So, for now, if you do have breasts, it would be better if you avoided it.


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