Over the past 14 years, there has been a marked upswing in gynecomastia surgeries in men in the United States. According to the ASPS, in 2013 over 22,000 surgeries were performed, up 11% from the year before. Of those, 35% were men between the ages of 20-29, 18% from the age of 30-39 and 13% from the age of 40-54. While a small amount of surgeries are from men who may have been obese and had large amounts of sagging skin or troublesome fat stores to remove after they lost weight, a vast majority of these men suffer from a marked buildup of firm tissue behind the nipple area, ranging in sizes from a button to the diameter of a baseball. Older men experience the dropping of chest muscles due in part to gravity and age and the embarrassment of having what has been termed “moobs”.
Barring extreme cases of childhood gynecomastia due to extreme hormonal imbalances, most of these cases have come about because of environmental influences- our food supply, our water supply and the vast chemicals in everyday products we use or wear on our bodies.
1. Water supply-Our nations drinking water supply is polluted with chemicals. Trace amounts of pharmaceutical chemicals including estrogen from birth control pills, anti-depressant drugs like Xanex and endocrine disruptors are in large city water supplies mainly because the filtration systems used do not filter out these chemicals. Sewage treatment plants are meant to remove more familiar pollutants and typically do not remove pharmaceuticals from waste water. Estrogen in the water supply has been linked to prostate cancer deaths.
“Looking at these percentages, we find a strong correlation between female use of oral contraceptives at a population level and both new cases of prostate cancer and mortality from prostate cancer,” said lead author Dr. David Margel, a urologist and fellow in uro-oncology.
Pharmaceuticals in river and lake water are being blamed for “feminized” male fish and other changes observed in earthworms and zooplankton.
2. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can interfere with the body’s hormonal system produce adverse reproductive, neurological and immune system effects. They are found in everyday products such as plastic bottles, metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants toys and cosmetics. Estrogen and estrogen-like chemicals are found in all manner of commercial and cosmetic products, including pesticides.
Fe De Leon, a researcher at the Canadian Environmental Law Association, said society can’t ignore the fact that estrogen and estrogen-mimicking substances may have a significant impact during an individual’s development and could eventually lead to breast and prostate cancers.
Here is a partial list of endocrine disruptors, known as the Dirty Dozen.
BPA– many food cans are lined with BPA. Go fresh instead of canned food.
Dioxin- Since the ongoing industrial release of dioxin, the American food supply is widely contaminated. Items including meat, fish, milk,eggs and butter are most likely to be contaminated. You can reduce your exposure by reducing your consumption of animal products from industrialized companies.
Atrazine– An herbicide widely used on the majority of corn crops in the U.S. and consequently it is a pervasive drinking water contaminant. Buy local organic produce and buy a drinking water filter certified to remove atrazine.
Phthalates– can trigger death inducing signaling to testicular cells making them die earlier than they should. Avoid plastic food containers, kids toys and plastic wrap (recycling label #3). Also avoid products that list “fragrance”, since this catch all term sometimes means hidden phthalates.
Perchlorate– a component of rocket fuel which contaminates much of our produce and milk. This can alter your thyroid hormone balance. You can install a reverse osmosis filter under your sink to combat this.
Fire retardants, lead, arsenic (which lurks in your food and drinking water disrupting the glucocorticoid system) and mercury (found in tuna) all effect hormone levels. Eat wild salmon and possibly farmed trout.
PFC/PFOA are completely resistant to biodegradation. Avoid using non stick pans as well as stain resistant coating on clothing, furniture and carpets.
Organophosphate pesticides– Neurotoxic organophosphate compounds were produced by the Nazi’s for chemical warfare. American scientists used the same chemistry to develop a long line of pesticides that target the nervous systems of insects. They are still among the most common pesticides in use today. Buy organic produce and use a vegetable/fruit wash on all produce you do buy before eating it.
Soy– Soy is full of phytoestrogens. It is not a food that is native to North America or Europe. Despite this soy has explode onto the American market. Soy is used in almost everything-vegetable oils; soy lecithin, the waste product after processing, is used as an emulsifier; soy flour appears in baked and packaged goods; different forms of soy protein are added to everything from animal feed to muscle building powders. Soy and corn are fed to chickens, beef cattle and pigs. Soy is also used in cardboard boxes, (soy protein isolate has never been approved as a food ingredient) supplements and vitamins ( Vitamin E derived from soy oil) and can be found in canned tuna, soups, sauces, breads, meats, chocolate, pet food and body care products.
If your are now experiencing some form of gynecomastia, take a look at your diet. If you are a big protein eater ( buying meat from commercial grocery stores or protein powders) you could effectively change this by eating less meat and buying only pasture raised meat, eggs and dairy from clean sources. Don’t assume the products you see on shelves in Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or health food stores don’t have these pollutants. READ THE LABELS BEFORE YOU BUY!
Further reading can be found here-
List of plastics and what their numbers mean-