Do Soy Products Cause Gynecomastia?
It’s a good question. We field inquiries about which foods – including soy products – drugs and other substances contribute to man boobs from many patients who consult us about male breast reduction in New York.
The truth is, there are many foods that contain what are known as phytoestrogens. According to the Tulane/Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research at Tulane University, phytoestrogens are part of a larger class of plant-produced chemicals called phytohormones that “mimic or interact with hormone signals in animals.” You can read Tulane’s comprehensive overview of phytoestrogens here.
Since soy products are consumed in quantity by infants (in soy-based formula) and in Asian cultures, soy products are some of the leading phytoestrogen-rich substances under study. Still, there’s no clear answer as to whether soy can cause gynecomastia or not.
A 2008 article on “An Unusual Case of Gynecomastia Associated with Soy Product Consumption” by two endocrinologists suggests there may be a link between moobs and soymilk. The physicians describe the case of a 60-year-old man with elevated female hormone levels, gynecomastia and impaired sexual function. The patient reported consuming three quarts of soymilk daily, and when he discontinued the practice, his enlarged breasts and sexual symptoms disappeared and his hormone levels returned to normal.
But many other physicians remain unconvinced about the possible link between soy products and gynecomastia. Dr. Steve, the host of Weird Medicine on Sirius XM Radio, gives one fan some fairly typical input on the topic via the Men’s Fitness website. He says the notion that soy products stimulate breast growth “appears to be a myth, or at least is not supported by the medical literature.”
So what’s an average guy struggling with gynecomastia to think of all this? One important thing to know is that phytoestrogens are not rare. Read through the information on the Tulane website and you’ll find that foods that contain these mild estrogen-like chemicals include apples, cherries, garlic, parsley, wheat, rice, beans, carrots, potatoes and coffee. Most of us enjoy many of these foods in average amounts on a daily basis. So, we reassure our New York male breast reduction patients that their diet is most likely not the source of their problem.
On the other hand, if you happen to consume a large quantity of a food containing phytoestrogens, like soymilk, it certainly doesn’t hurt to discontinue the practice and see what happens.
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, most cases of gynecomastia cannot be influenced for the better by changes in diet. We urge you to contact a board certified plastic surgeon who specializes in male breast reduction to find out more about your specific case. If you’d like to contact us, give our offices a call at 212-570-6080 or fill out our short contact form.