Gynecomastia is caused by a hormone imbalance between testosterone and estrogen. When the ratio between testosterone and estrogen skews in favour of estrogen, the male body responds by creating excessive breast tissue – commonly referred to as “man boobs”.
Besides those instances where gynecomastia may occur as part of the body’s natural changes throughout a man’s life, the condition may also be caused by certain illnesses and medications, including: hyperthyroidism, tumours, anabolic steroids, kidney failure, malnutrition, liver failure, chemotherapy, heart medications, and antidepressants.
Like many of the medications listed above, marijuana can act as an estrogen stimulator. Various preclinical studies have found that marijuana use can both increase estrogen production in men and decrease testosterone production which may lead to gynecomastia. The exact reason for this is not yet known. One theory is that THC, the psychoactive component of weed, blocks the release of GnRH, which is a hormone that triggers the production of other hormones, including testosterone.
Animal studies have shown that exposure to the active ingredient THC in marijuana can result in a decrease in testosterone levels, abnormalities in the form and function of sperm, and a reduction of testicular size. Nevertheless, it is still unclear as to how exactly marijuana and smoking weed affects hormone levels in humans, but there is significant anecdotal evidence to suggest that regular marijuana users have lower testosterone levels than non-users and that heavy doses of the drug may delay the onset of puberty in young men.
While there may not be any definitive evidence as yet linking marijuana use and gynecomastia, the medical community has suspected a link between marijuana and man-boobs for decades. However, due to the drug’s status as an illicit substance in most countries, there hasn’t been sufficient research to confirm these speculations.
Young men who use marijuana through puberty may find that that their transient, temporary breast enlargement, normally associated with puberty, become permanent because as their testosterone levels are altered by marijuana use, their normal/natural hormone development may be interfered and adversely impacted. These men may find that they have more breast tissue when they’re done with puberty than they would have otherwise had if they did not smoke marijuana
Although the association between marijuana and gynecomastia hasn’t been conclusively proven, it appears very plausible.
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