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Study: Gynecomastia in Mid-puberty is a Frequent but Usually Transient Condition

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GynecomastiaGynecomastia is a commonly occurring and distressing aesthetic concern among teenage boys and men. The buildup of excess fat and tissue in the chest is not just a cosmetic issue and it most often causes anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. Plastic surgeons offer effective gynecomastia treatment which involves removing the excess fat using advanced laser-enabled liposuction technology. The procedure can effectively address the condition and result in a well-contoured, manly physique.

Overly large male breasts are believed to be caused by a decrease in the amount of the hormone testosterone compared with estrogen. Other factors associated with the condition include the use of certain drugs, heredity, obesity, and Gilbert’s syndrome.

However, according to new research, gynecomastia in pubertal boys is not due to estrogen/testosterone imbalance but due to increased levels of insulin like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and pubertal growth. The researchers say that their study shows that gynecomastia in mid-puberty is a frequent but usually transient condition. The findings of this study by a Denmark-based team were recently published online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The researchers evaluated 106 healthy Danish boys aged 5 to 16 years to determine the rate of physiologic gynecomastia and possible etiologic factors. The median age at first evaluation was 9 years. The boys were examined every 6 months during the period 2006 to 2014.

The study found that 49% (52) of the boys developed gynecomastia during follow-up at a median age of 13 years and most frequently during mid-puberty. The key findings are as follows:

  • Of the 52 boys, 14 (27%) developed intermittent gynecomastia (at irregular intervals).
  • Of these14 boys, six had two or three examinations without gynecomastia lasting a median of 2 years, while the other eight had just one intermittent exam without gynecomastia.
  • Growth patterns differed significantly between those with and without gynecomastia: peak height velocity was at 13.5 years for those with the condition and 13.9 years for those without.
  • Boys with gynecomastia had high levels of estradiol.
  • Serum testosterone was also elevated in boys with the condition, leaving the estradiol/testosterone ratio unaltered.

The researchers noted that IGF-1 along with estrogen is necessary for the growth of breast tissue, and that the effect of growth hormone on breast growth is stimulated through IGF-1, which is synergized by estradiol.

According to the lead researcher, the aim of the research was to give a comprehensive physiological explanation for this common phenomenon. This they believe, will help boys who are affected to understand why they have breast tissue and others do not. They say that their study shows that physiological gynecomastia is a frequent condition appearing in mid-puberty and in most cases transient – lasting less than one year.

Medscape Medical News reports that he said, “…Hopefully this will help the boys not to worry that much or feel less anxious going through puberty”.

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