DENVER, March 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Some medical professionals believe smoking marijuana can cause a man to develop breasts. Dr. Gregory Buford thinks this may be the least of our problems.
As a resident of the mile-high city itself, Dr. Buford first addressed the issue of pot's relation to "man-boobs" on his blog: "As a Plastic Surgeon, I work with a number of male patients ... many of them come to me with long-standing gynecomastia."
Many in the medical profession strongly suspect a link between pot smoking and gynecomastia, but what is the big deal—a little extra fat on the chest never hurt anybody, right?
"There are men out there who have gynecomastia and do not recognize it, or have such a small degree of it that it doesn't bother them," explains Dr. Buford. "But for men who have a greater degree of breast growth, removing their shirts can be a painful and embarrassing experience. I have operated on men who literally cried once they saw their results, because they never thought they would look normal again."
What does marijuana have to do with it?
Gynecomastia doesn't strike a particular group of men, but it is most often first seen during puberty, where it affects approximately 60 percent of teenage boys. Many of them will grow out of it, but according to Dr. Buford, "Gynecomastia sets in when there is an imbalance between testosterone and estrogen levels. In males, when testosterone falls and estrogen dominates, breast tissue is stimulated to grow." And in animal studies, THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) has been proven to lower testosterone.
This fact may be particularly important to consider in terms of male teens' health and development of gynecomastia. A recent report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) noted that in 2013, 16.5% of 8th-graders, primarily male, admitted to having smoked marijuana. That percentage jumps to 45.5% by the time they are 18. Gynecomastia can affect them well into adulthood. Roughly 30-45 percent of men between the ages of 25-45 suffer from gynecomastia. 52.5 percent of this same age group admits to smoking marijuana as reported by the NIDA.
But the truth is...
"To what extent pot smoking actually causes gynecomastia, we don't know," says Dr. Buford. "It hasn't been studied enough to yield concrete evidence to support the assumption."
Dr. Buford believes that if usage of marijuana increases with legalization we may be seeing more men develop gynecomastia. He admits this is a personal prediction and is interested to see what we learn in the coming years.
Dr. Buford's main concern is that if marijuana really does decrease testosterone levels, the effects could be much worse than man boobs, which, after all, can be corrected with minor surgery.
"Estrogen dominance in a male has been clearly shown to increase the risk for cardiac events, stroke, and early death," he explains. "In my mind, these risks far outweigh the concern I have for man boobs. My hope is that the medical profession will begin studying the potential link between frequent marijuana use, testosterone and estrogen levels and determine just how concerned we really should be."
In animal studies of the effects of THC on testosterone, it was found to reduce testicular size, and cause abnormalities in the form and function of sperm, though there is conflicting evidence in human studies, and so a true association has yet to be documented. Dr. Buford recommends that men of all ages put down the J until these questions are resolved.
About BEAUTY by BUFORD: One of Denver's top plastic surgeons, Gregory Buford, MD, FACS, is the founder and medical director of BEAUTY by BUFORD. The Official Plastic Surgeon to the Miss Colorado Pageant, he was named one of "America's Top Surgeons" and is a nationally recognized trainer and consultant for many non-surgical products and techniques. He can be reached at 303-747-6719 or on his website.
Media Contact: Dr. Gregory Buford, BEAUTY by BUFORD, 303-747-6719, www.beautybybuford.com
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