Consumer Drug Safety

Gynecomastia Causes Emotional Problems in Teen Boys

An April 2013 study revealed that teen boys who suffer gynecomastia may experience issues with self-esteem and other emotional and mental health problems. Gynecomastia is a condition that causes enlarged breast tissue in males. Other studies have indicated that certain types of drugs can cause gynecomastia in teen boys. One of these drugs is Risperdal, an antipsychotic drug used to treat conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Risperdal and Gynecomastia

The first association between Risperdal and gynecomastia was in a 1999 clinical study. At first, gynecomastia was linked to Risperdal use when used in conjunction with Prozac, an antidepressant drug that contains fluoxetine. A 2006 study then revealed that high levels of prolactin were found within adolescents who took Risperdal. In 2009, another study showed that Risperdal could lead to elevated prolactin levels that lasted for up to two years.

Many believe that Risperdal causes gynecomastia due to the blocking of dopamine in the body. In response to this, the patient’s pituitary gland releases a substance called prolactin. In women, prolactin causes breast development and milk production. In men, prolactin can lead to gynecomastia. Risperdal patients who experience gynecomastia may experience pain, tenderness, or swelling of the breast tissue. Additionally, the patient may experience nipple discharge.

Gynecomastia’s Effect on Teen Health

The study consisted of psychological testing on 47 teenagers who averaged the age of 16. A control group included boys who did not suffer gynecomastia. Among teenage boys with the condition, 62 percent experienced mild or moderate enlargement of the breasts. Additionally, 64 percent of the participants were overweight or obese, in comparison with 41 percent from the control group.

The study noted general health, mental health, self-esteem, and social functioning of the participants. Results showed that the boys who suffered gynecomastia had lower scores across the board. These results were also present in those patients who only suffer mild gynecomastia. The study was published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Dr. Brian Labow and his colleagues at the Boston Children’s Hospital commented in a journal news release. Dr. Labow emphasizes the need for early intervention and treatment for these patients before the condition severely impacts their mental well-being. In severe cases, breast-reduction surgery can be used as a treatment. The researchers note that further research should be conducted on the mental and physical effects of breast-reduction surgery for teens who suffer gynecomastia.

Show Sources
  1. "Boy with Breasts? J&J Settles Risperdal Gynecomastia Lawsuit on 1st Day of Trial." Lawyers and Settlements. Lawyers and Settlements, 10 Sept 2012. Web. 12 May 2013.
  2. "Gynecomastia Has Psychological Impact on Adolescent Boys." American Society of Plastic Surgeons. American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2 Apr 2013. Web. 12 May 2013.