Credit: Diane W. Shannon, MD, MPH/    
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Grey's Anatomy

Medical Trauma Drama: Do Man Boobs Happen in Real Life?

As Alex and Mark discussed in last week's episode of Grey's Anatomy, breast reduction isn't exactly as commonplace as breast enlargement. But it's a different story if said breasts are on a guy—or, at least, a guy who wants to look like a guy. We saw such a case in this episode, and the Edward Norton character encountered another in Fight Club, but are man-boobs fact or Hollywood fiction?

Fact, as Grey's researcher Meg Marinis explains. It's a condition called gynecomastia, and it's caused by a hormone imbalance — a higher ratio of estrogen to testosterone. Such an imbalance can be caused by a variety of medications and treatments (like antidepressants, antibiotics, chemotherapy, and meds to treat heart problems, ulcers, and AIDS) and conditions (like kidney or liver failure, malnutrition, tumors, hypergonadism, hyperthyroidism, or simply aging). Also, the use of recreational drugs (like marijuana, heroin, and amphetamines) and steroids can result in gynecomastia. For patients whose gynecomastia doesn't subside by itself, doctors may recommend liposuction or mastectomies.

Doesn't sound particularly fun. So as much as guys may like boobs, they should probably be careful what they wish for.

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10.25.2010 / 08:33 PM EDT by Dan Clarendon
Related: Grey's Anatomy, Recaps

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