💡What To Know:
- Having gynecomastia increases the risk of early death for men by 37%
- Enlarged breast tissue is usually the result of a hormonal imbalance
- Men with pre-existing health conditions are at an even greater risk
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Men with enlarged breast tissue, which people often call “moobs” or “man boobs,” face a higher risk of premature death before the age of 75, a new study warns. This condition, medically known as gynecomastia, typically results from a hormonal imbalance and affects between one-third to two-thirds of men, varying with age.
The development of gynecomastia occurs in three distinct life stages, corresponding to hormonal changes: during the neonatal period, puberty, and in later years. It’s important to note that this condition differs from pseudo gynecomastia, which is the result of being overweight or obese.
According to the study, men with gynecomastia have a 37-percent increased risk of early death from any cause compared to those without the condition. The risk is particularly high in men with a known pre-existing condition, where the odds are 75 percent higher than in cases of gynecomastia of unknown origin. The greatest risks are associated with pre-existing cancers, as well as circulatory, lung, and gut diseases. Interestingly, neurological diseases were linked to a 29-percent lower risk.
“Males diagnosed with gynecomastia are at higher risk of death, observed mainly in males with a known pre-existing risk factor of gynecomastia,” says Dr. Anders Juul from the University of Copenhagen, in a media release. “These findings will hopefully stimulate more awareness among healthcare providers to potentially apply interventions that aid in alleviating underlying risk factors in males with this condition.”
The research team based their findings on data from Danish national health and population registries. They identified 23,429 men diagnosed with gynecomastia between Jan. 1, 1995 and June 30, 2021. These men were categorized into two groups: those with idiopathic (unknown cause) gynecomastia and those with a known pre-existing condition. All participants were monitored from the date of study entry until death or the end of June 2021, whichever occurred first. During this period, 12,676 men passed away.
Men with idiopathic gynecomastia did not generally face a greater risk of early death than those in the reference group, except for a specific doubled risk of death from liver disease.
“Males diagnosed with gynecomastia are at a 37 percent higher risk of death, observed mainly in males with a known pre-existing gynecomastia risk factor and not in males with idiopathic gynecomastia. These results should therefore prompt thorough clinical examination to identify the underlying risk factors,” Dr. Juul concludes.
The study is published in BMJ Open.
South West News Service writer Isobel Williams contributed to this report.