Does Beer Give You Man Boobs? Hops & Gynaecomastia

hops-beer-male-breast-reduction-surgery image

Many beers contain hops. Ever wondered if hops, beer and man boobs were related?

Are hops, beer and man boobs related? 

Hops, Beer and Man Boobs: What the Studies Show about Gynaecomastia

The hops plant is a vine used today in beer production as well as offered in herb capsules for anxiety and insomnia.

hops-beer-male-breast-reduction-surgery (photo of hops plant)The plant contains one of the most potent estrogenic compounds from the plant kingdom – (+-)-8-prenylnaringenin (called “8PN” for short or “hopein”).  Compounds such as these are called phytoestrogensPhytoestrogens in food substances can change the chemistry of the body – but probably not so much as calories and excess weight.

So does this mean that drinking beer gives man boobs? Read more to find out.

Phytoestrogens such as HOPS (Hopein) can impact your body’s natural chemistry.

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What are Phytoestrogens?

Phytoestrogens are bioactive molecules that bind to estrogen receptors. This can cause an estrogenic/antiestrogenic response in target tissues, such as the pituitary gland, breasts, uterus, vagina, prostate and endometrium.

The ability of the compound to interact with estrogen receptors determines its estrogenic or antiestrogenic activity.

Phytoestrogens are found in many types of foods.

Foods that contain Phytoestrogens include:

  • cabbage • spinach • soybeans    • beans
  • sprouts • plums • pears            • apples
  • berries • garlic • onions          • wine
  • tea • lentils • peanuts       

 causes of gynaecomastia hops-beer-man-boobs (male breast surgery, male breast reduction surgery)

As you can see from the list of foods containing estrogenic compounds, you can’t really get away from eating them in your typical diet.

Hops actually contains over 1000 different medicinal chemicals. It’s not just estrogenic compounds.

Does beer give you man boobs?

Beer Contains Hops (Estrogenic) So They Can Give You Man Boobs

Recently, there have been stronger reports warning men to stop drinking beer because of the estrogenic compounds. The warnings state that hops and beer can give you gyneacomastia, which is enlargement of the breasts in men.  There are also suggestions that SOY, such as SOY lattes, is perhaps not the best choice for men concerned about fatty, enlarged breast tissues.

What’s the truth in this matter – does beer REALLY give you man boobs or “moobs“?

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Research into HOPS, BEER and MAN BOOBS

Studies do show that 8PN does have estrogenic activity as discovered in 1973. But the important thing to note is that this was shown to be the case when it was given subcutaneously – i.e., injected under the skin. But 8PN was found to be 20,000 times less effective (less potent) than estradiol.

In terms of beer, hops quantities and types VARY in different beers.

All the hop extracts they tested were negative for estrogenic activity. That’s because the estrogenic active ingredient in hops is formed spontaneously. Different plant varieties – and different beers – have varying quantities so NOT all beers will give you man boobs (but drinking too much beer and NOT exercising most certainly will).

  • Interestingly, around the same time the estrogenic activity of HOPS was being researched, a medical report appeared in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology stating that brewery sludge baths were taken in Germany for a variety of gynecological disorders.
  • The brewery sludge baths contained about 30% hops extracts. Patents also appeared for the use of hops in cosmetics for external application.
  • This seemingly contradicts the previous idea.

Time brought further clarification to the issue of whether or not HOPS gave a man enlarged breast tissues (man boobs) or contributed to Gynaecomastia.

man-boobs-hops-beer-male-breast-reduction

 

Estrogenic Only in the Lab So Far

In 1988 the estrogenic part of hops was found, and by 1999 the in vitro estrogenic activity of hops was reported by Milligan and his team in the lab in the physiology department at the School of Biomedical Sciences in London. The key here is the term “in vitro” which means in the laboratory. It doesn’t mean the estrogenic activity was seen in humans.

Hops or Beer causing Man Boobs is still being debated.

Although hops is considered estrogenic, it’s still open to debate whether or not the herb can have beneficial hormonal activity when consumed orally by humans.

However, again, sedentary lifestyles and too many calories (in beer) WILL tend to contribute to man boobs, or enlarged male breast tissues, which can be corrected by Gynaecomastia surgery (male breast reduction).

Harmful Estrogenic Compounds in the Environment: The Science Behind Gynaecomastia is still evolving

  • What is known about Gynaecomastia is that harmful estrogenic compounds in our environments can disrupt the hormone receptors in the body.
  • For example, chemicals in commercial laundry detergents and weed killers block the body’s natural hormone receptors.
  • It’s possible that once all these harmful estrogenic compounds start becoming active in the body, they may interact with the hops in beer.
  • Remember that the estrogenic compounds in HOPS were spontaneously formed – it’s possible that this conversion is accelerated by the presence of the estrogen mimickers.
  • And – beer brewing does vary – so keep your eye out on new findings in the news about whether hops and beer causes man boobs (moobs), i.e., male breast enlargement.

Weight Gain, OBESITY, and a high alcohol intake (with a sedentary lifestyle) WILL tend to give a male enlarged, puffy looking or drooping breasts.    

However, even SUPER fit men may have a puffy looking chest area they want reduced.  

Whatever your reason for exploring Male Breast Reduction Surgery for Gynaecomastia, our leading Body Contouring Surgeons can help.  Our Surgeons are fully-qualified Plastic Surgeons (FRACS qualified) who are experts at getting a smoother looking chest area using breast reduction liposuction and skin excisions to reduce excess skin.

This can also help men who have lost a lot of weight after Gastric Band, Gastric Bypass or other weight loss surgery procedures.


The answer may not be to stop drinking beer altogether, but rather to do systematic detoxification of the colon and liver to remove all the “bad” estrogens from the body.

Does Hops, Beer cause man boobs, or enlarged male breasts?


  • Of course, if you have Gynaecomastia, reducing the number of alcoholic drinks you consume is always a good strategy.
  • So is eliminating sugar and processed foods from your diet.
  • This will help improve your metabolism, which is running on sugar, to running on fat instead, and cause slight ketosis.
  • Ketosis is what burns the extra fat in the body, including that in the breast tissue.
  • Building chest muscles can also strengthen that area although for some men, can emphasise the condition of Gynaecomastia more. 
  • But if you still have excess skin after exercising and losing weight, and you want a smoother, flatter chest area, call us on (03) 8849 1444 and ask for a confidential consultation with one of our leading Body Contouring surgeons in Melbourne (Hawthorn, Berwick or Williamstown).  
  • Ask for Dr Richard Maxwell or Dr Geoff Barnett, our body contouring Specialist Plastic Surgeons for male breast reduction surgery for Gynaecomastia. 

Medications – not beer – can also be the culprit for man boobs (moobs) and Gynaecomastia

Interestingly, in one case study reported in 2010, gynecomastia was caused by a drug for rheumatoid arthritis called methotrexate. (Here it’s obvious that the drug is interfering with proper hormone function in the body.) Taking folate (a B vitamin) for two months reversed the condition.


Misinformation on the Internet

Some internet reports state that increasing one’s consumption of cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts are the answer for gynecomastia. These foods ALSO contain estrogenic compounds – another clue that it’s not the estrogenic compounds in foods that are causing the problem.

These foods do stimulate detoxification of the colon and liver. What do they remove? Bad estrogenic compounds such as the ones found in environmental chemicals that are disrupting the hormone functions in the body.

Most likely, the hops in beer along with the other estrogenic compounds in the body are not the problem.

It might be other factors, such as lifestyle, environmental exposures, a higher BMI than you should have to stay healthy and fit, or even the unwanted direct effects of medications (which Pharmaceuticals like to call “side effects” but are actually direct effects of the drugs).

Nevertheless, if you have Gynaecomastia, and want a smoother, flatter chest, there are cosmetic plastic surgery options.

Give us a call today at our Cosmetic Plastic Surgery offices to discuss your concerns; or send an enquiry form today.

Phone us on (03) 8849 1444 and ask for a confidential surgery consultation with Dr Maxwell or Dr Barnett in either Williamstown, Berwick or Hawthorn East (Melbourne).

Want your man boobs reduced through plastic surgery in Melbourne?

We look forward to helping you get the smoother, more masculine looking chest you’re seeking.

If you want to be able to wear more fitted shirts – or even go shirtless in summer – with less self-consciousness, call our trusted Surgeons today.

Further reading/sources:

Milligan, S.R., et al. Identification of a potent phytoestrogen in hops (Humulus lupulus L.) and beer. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1999 Jun; 84(6): 2249-52.

Chadwick, L.R., et al. The pharmacognosy of Humulus lupulus L. (hops) with an emphasis on estrogenic properties. Phytomedicine 2008 Jan;13(1-2):119-31. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1852439/

Bacciottini, L., et al. Phytoestrogens: food or drug? Clin Cases Miner Bone Metab 2007 May-Aug 4(2): 123-30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2781234/

Fukushi, J., Nakashima, Y., and Iwamoto, Y. Gynecomastia associated with low dose methotrexate therapy for rheumatoid arthritis ameliorated by folate supplement. Rheumatol Int 2010 Aug;30(10): 1371-2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19597731

Hosie, Rachel. Hops in IPA Beer Linked to Man Boobs. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/ipa-man-boobs-beer-hops-weight-gain-hormones-phytoestrogens-moobs-brewers-droop-a7934306.html