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Can Soy Products Cause Gynecomastia?

Posted on Friday, September 27th, 2013 by Dr. Babak Dadvand

As a plastic surgeon specializing in gynecomastia, I am asked whether different products can cause gynecomastia. There are many different medications or products that can increase the chance of gynecomastia, such as anabolic steroids, HGH, certain hair growth stimulants, not to mention a host of antidepressant, anti-seizure, and cardiac medications.

One product which I want to discuss is soy. Being a plastic surgeon in Los Angeles, I see patients who are very health conscious. Soy based diets are very popular in this part of the country, so the question to be asked is, “can soy cause gynecomastia?”

Soybeans contain molecules called isoflavones, which have weak estrogen activity. In fact they have been used for years as “natural” remedies for hot flashes in menopausal women. So, is a male who incorporates soy as part of his diet susceptible to developing gynecomastia?

Probably the greatest amount of research on the long-term effects of soy has to do with soy infant formulas. A 2004 Italian study of kids raised on soy protein formulas showed no gynecomastia, no early puberty, and no changes in their bones. There is one publication listed in the National Institute of Health database that correlated the ingestion of soy to gynecomastia. In this case, it was a 60 year old male who presented with decreased libido and enlarged breasts. Upon questioning it was revealed that this patient was consuming ¾ of a gallon of soy milk per day! Clearly, ingesting too much of any substance may have negative effects but in no way should lead one to conclude that taking in a normal amount of soy will lead to gynecomastia.

To learn more about gynecomastia or to see before and after photographs, please visit drdadvandplasticsurgery.com.

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