Do IPA Beers Cause Gynecomastia? – The Interaction Between Man Boobs and Beer

by Matt Harper on December 13, 2017

Other than sports, beer is the other major universal factor that binds men throughout the world, uniting them together in the spirit of a good time and some alcohol!

Beer causes man boobs

A beer serves as the perfect combination for any boys’ night-out chilling sessions at home or get-together over a ballgame. We really can’t think of any small or big event that can’t be bettered by beer!

In fact, in many parts of the world, drinking beer is considered the right of passage into adulthood. No matter how stringent laws may be imposed on underage drinking, boys in their teenage years still find ways to get their fill of beer in gatherings and parties.

However, can this wonderful drink become a cause for men to lose their masculinity? Regular drinking of beer, especially IPA (India Pale Ale) Beers, does have some significant drawbacks.

Majority of men are well-acquainted with the downsides of beer, which can range from beer bellies to getting oneself in embarrassing situations (resulting from lack of inhibitions).

But many are now noticing a major disturbing side-effect known as gynecomastia or ‘man boobs.’ It’s a condition that has brought the words boobs and beer in a rather unpleasant manner!

Gynecomastia is mainly about the abnormal development and growth of the male breast tissue, giving men a much-unwanted feminine look.

Although this is a reality that most guys wouldn’t even want to think about, modern-day science is indeed making a compelling case, through various related studies.

What is Gynecomastia Exactly?

Before delving into IPA beers and what is contained in them, let’s first understand what exactly is gynecomastia or man boobs.

Also referred to as male breast enlargement, gynecomastia is mostly a hormonal condition wherein men experience improper balancing of the estrogen and testosterone levels in their bodies.

This results in a medical disorder which causes growth and development of the breast tissue in boys and men of all age groups. Gynecomastia can impact either or both the breasts and may even resolve by itself over a period.

It’s a condition that can even arise naturally owing to hormonal changes in newborns, aging men and boys passing through puberty stage in their lives.

While some of the changes in the breast tissues can be directly related to exercise and diet, constant lack of movement and a consistently poor food can impact the production of hormones in the body.

Although gynecomastia or man boobs might seem just embarrassing and awkward, please note, the condition can also be life-threatening and dangerous.

Regardless, in the majority of cases, there are no significant side effects other than the tissue growth.

What do The IPA Beers Contain?

A glass of IPA Beer

The year 2015 witnessed a widespread rumor on the Internet about how regular consumption of beer may lead to breast enlargement in men.

This was when everyone started talking about boobs and beer in the context that wasn’t too pleasing.

The rumor was traced back to a particular piece written by Stephen Harrod Buhner, a famous author, and herbalist.

He had published a book titled Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers in the year 1998, in which he had alleged that regularly drinking hoppy beers, also referred to as India Pale Ale or IPA Beers, cause man boobs, resulting in the term IPA man boobs.

As per Buhner, hops consist of a natural compound that leads to the development of enlarged breasts in men.

It’s the very same compound which is responsible for temporary impotence in men after they have had too much to drink, a condition also known as brewer’s droop.

Majority of the Beers contain hops in one or the other form, but when it comes to the IPA Beers, hops are easily the most dominant ingredient.

Having been produced for over 175 years now, IPA Beers contain the hop plant’s (Humulus Lupulus) female flowers. These are what give India pale in its trademark bitter taste.

IPAs are in fact the bestsellers among all the craft beers, accounting for 25% of all the craft beer sales in the United States.

Ingredients That Can Cause Gynecomastia:

Conventionally, hops, one of the main components of IPA Beers, have always been in use for treatment of conditions such as insomnia, dating as long ago as the 1500s.

They’ve also been known to be an excellent source of phytoestrogen, making many wonders – is there estrogen in beer?

Hops on a wooden surface

Phytoestrogen is immensely helpful for women during endometriosis and menopause.

Please note, endometriosis is widely known as a painful condition in women that impacts as many as 6 million of them worldwide.

In this state, the tissue that usually lines the inside area of their uterus starts growing outside of it.

Although not generally harmful, phytoestrogen is structurally similar to human estrogen, leading to the same kind of side effects that can be caused by excessive consumption of estrogen, the formation of boobs (or gynecomastia) being one of them.

In fact, many products targeted at women, including various sleep aids and medicines for minimizing menopause’s side effects, also consist of phytoestrogen.

Onto alcohol and estrogen in males now.

What studies say about IPA Beers and man boobs?

Man drinking beer and worrying

Studies suggesting that IPA Beers might not cause gynecomastia

Studies have confirmed that hops contained in beer do consist of a plant chemical having a stark similarity to estrogen hormone, known as the phytoestrogen.

As per Richard van Breemen, Professor, Medicinal Chemistry, College of Pharmacy at the University of Illinois, this is indeed true.

Quoting Mr. Breemen, “It’s true that there is a minute quantity of [the estrogen-like compound, known as] 8-prenylnaringenin, in hops, and there ought to be a trace of it in beer, but I would say the levels are too low to function as a [hormone] disruptor.” (Source)

Furthermore, some studies have found that this particular compound can have a significant impact on the hormonal system of humans.

In fact, Mr. Breemen along with his peers are also investigating a certain supplement obtained from hops, which can potentially function as the natural alternative to the hormone replacement therapy in people.

But as per Mr. Breemen, there is a very little amount of this compound in regular beers, and even in the IPAs. According to him, this quantity is just not enough to impact the male sexual functioning.

Studies suggesting that IPA Beers might cause gynecomastia

On the other end of the spectrum are the scientists who studied the long-term effects of India Pale Ale Beers.

The researchers at the University of Granada in Spain and Santo Tomas University in Colombia observed that such effects caused by regular consumption of IPA Beers aren’t temporary, as the brewer’s droop and erectile dysfunction was found in the subjects even after abstaining from alcohol consumption for a considerable time period.

Other Harmful Effects of Drinking IPA Beers for Men:

While regular drinking of IPA Beers may lead to gynecomastia or man boobs, there can be many different harmful effects of drinking beer on a regular basis.

These are mainly owing to the alcohol content in them. Let’s go over some of these toxic effects below:

Effects on Liver:

A major problem associated with regular consumption of alcohol, including IPA Beers, is that it is damaging to the liver. Liver disease caused by alcohol is a major reason for several illnesses and deaths in the United States.

Other than that, regularly consuming alcohol also permanently alters the cell structure in the liver, which hampers the liver’s natural ability to metabolize fats.Alcohol abuse causes cirrhosis

It is this fat metabolism process in the human body (also referred to as fat burning) which is responsible for weight loss.

Such liver problems are commonly seen in men fond of beer. Beer’s quite like potato chips, as one single drink hardly measures up!

Men are often found indulging in large quantities of beer in every sitting, which can possibly cause long-term liver damage, and hamper the body’s natural ability to burn off fat.

Cirrhosis is a fatal liver-related condition caused due to scarring on the liver, because of excessive alcohol consumption.

Once your liver gets damaged over a period of time, a scar tissue starts building on it, eventually impairing the functioning of this vital body organ.

As a result, the toxic substances that your liver was expected to filter out, start building up in the body, making you unwell, significantly increasing the risk of death.

Circulatory Issues:

Whenever you drink large amounts of alcohol, the blood circulation in your body goes for a toss. This is well-evident from that warm-all-over feeling you get whenever you gulp down your IPA Beer or whiskey shot in one go!

The research carried out at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center has revealed a solid link between circulatory issues and alcohol consumption, as well as the possible impact of alcohol on spikes in blood pressure.

Beer Belly:

Man with beer bellyThere’s a reason why we often get to hear about ‘beer belly’ and never about ‘green tea belly.’ Alcohol, especially when consumed in the form of beer, is notoriously known for weight gain.

As per the UK Department of Health, anyone who drinks even 4 pints of beer per week takes in as many calories as an individual who consumes an extra 221 donuts per year.

Drinking a pint of lager beer is equivalent to eating one pizza slice (in terms of calories).

Researchers at the Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea have proved a significant association between alcohol consumption and increase in belly fat (and waist size).

Cancer:

Cancer is one single word that everyone is terrified of hearing when he/she visits the doctor. Although it’s difficult to avoid specific cancer types, there are many which are directly associated with alcohol consumption.

Diseases such as liver, esophageal, stomach and throat cancer are all directly related to alcohol abuse.

As per a study carried out in Lithuania, the type of alcohol, whether it is beer, wine or hard liquor doesn’t really matter as far as the cancer development in alcohol drinkers is concerned.

Dementia:

It’s common knowledge that alcohol can cause short-term memory loss. However, the long-term effects of alcohol abuse are equally damaging on the brain.

A study carried out in Britain and published in the Age, and Ageing suggested a solid connection between Dementia and alcohol consumption.

Some of the other health issues caused by IPA Beers and alcohol in general include:

  • Seizures
  • Dehydration
  • Diabetes
  • Ulcers
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Lower Immune System
  • Decreased Fertility
  • Mental Decline
  • Pancreatic Pain
  • Depression
  • Stroke
  • Decreased Kidney Function
  • Muscle Atrophy
  • Nerve Damage
  • Reduced Sperm Count
  • Anemia
  • GERD
  • Gout
  • Insomnia
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Leaky Gut

How to Counter The Side Effects of Drinking IPA Beers?

In case you are a heavy IPA beer drinker and have started sprouting breasts, apart from losing your performance-ability in the bed, it could indeed be about your beer consumption!

On the other hand, if you’ve landed in more severe health problems, such as the ones listed above, and it’s really bothering and concerning you, you’d not harm your body by cutting back on the IPAs consumption.

Why not send all those spare beer cartons to your wife! She’d really appreciate the extra estrogen!

Conclusion:

Despite what was stated by Stephen Harrod Buhner in his book and what has also been found by some researchers, there’s also a fair amount of scientific evidence which indicates that the hops contained in certain types of beer, including IPA Beers, are too little to cause any major man boobs concerns.

Nevertheless, it is indeed true that excessive alcohol consumption can make you gain a lot of weight, which in turn can lead to the formation of man boobs.

Alcohol abuse can also prevent weight loss, thereby causing the task of reducing man boobs (through exercising and diet) more difficult.

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