Jeremy Piven Claims He Got Man-Boobs from Soy Milk

Jeremy Piven is back in the news again. In a previous blog we talked about Piven’s mercury poisoning from eating too much sushi. Now the Entourage actor is claiming that drinking too much soy milk has caused him to get “man-boobs.” Speaking to Bang Media International,  Piven reports that  “I was the guy that dabbled in soy milk, but now I’ve found out soy milk has enough estrogen for me to grow breasts. I had to put the soy milk down. It was a very confusing time.” Apparently Piven was drinking 12 cups of soy milk a day- that’s the equivalent of 360 mg of isoflavones (soy estrogen) a day!

Gynecomastia (so called “man-boobs”) is the overgrowth of breast tissue in men. It should be noted that there is an increase in breast tissue itself, which is differentiated from increased breast size due to an increase in fat in overweight men. Contrary to popular belief, males produce both testosterone and estrogen, although the levels of estrogen are much lower than the testosterone levels. There are times when gynecomastia is considered “normal”- typically times when estrogen level may naturally be  proportionally higher:

  • At birth – secondary to the influence of maternal hormones, usually last about 2 weeks.
  • At puberty – Approximately half of adolescent males will show some growth in breast tissue at puberty which decreases over time.
  • After age 50, corresponding with declining testosterone levels.

Other causes of gynecomastia include:

  • Testosterone deficiency
  • Certain medications, such as digoxine (a heart medication), certain diuretics(“water pill”),cimetadine (a medication for stomach conditions), and many others
  • Anabolic steroids used to enhance athletic performance in sports
  • Marijuana use
  • Liver or kidney failure
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland)
  • Tumors of the testicles, lung, stomach, liver, kidney, or pituitary gland
  • Certain herbal preparations, such as tea tree oil and lavender

Soy is a plant, a member of the pea family. Soy contains protein, isoflavones, and fiber, all thought to providehealth benefits. Soy is an excellent source of dietary protein,including all essential amino acids. Soy isoflavones and lecithin have been studied scientifically for numerous health conditions. Isoflavones such asgenistein are believed to have estrogen-like effects in the body, andas a result are sometimes called “phytoestrogens.”

There is very little evidence that soy estrogens cause gynecomastia.  We did find one scholarly paper of a case of possible soy-induced gynecomastia (see soy estrogen casebook), but most studies do not support the notion that soy products are a major cause of “man-boobs.”  As most studies do not use doses over 150 mg/day,  we cannot comment about Mr. Piven’s specific claims.

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Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

2 Comments

  1. Luiz

    May 28, 2012 at 12:44 am

    I appreciate your quisteon. I just went through this with a very dear friend of mine who is all of 27. She was a 40JJ!!! She had to ponder long and hard about her decision not that she didn’t feel it was necessary it was but after consultation with her surgeon, she discovered that the reprocussions could be costly afterwards. Many times, the breasts’ nipple has to be moved and separated in the procedure. This may be a big concern to your daughter if she wants to breast feed in the future it may not be an issue at all if your daughter is undergoing back and neck discomfort, expensive brassiers in order to support the weight. I would most definitely find a plastic surgeon who is qualified, certified and above board (you must do extensive research!) Ask quisteons! write them down and make sure you get all the answers you need to your satisfaction and your daughter’s. Hopefully, whoever you select will allow you to interview patients he or she has performed the surgery on before. Additionally, look at videos, pictures and consult a therapist for your daughter she is going to need all the support and protection, advise and administration and love she can get. My friend called her students together AND their parents to advise them of her decision and because she is a science teacher’ made this more interesting for them and for herself. Imagine coming back after Christmas holiday and your teacher looking so different and you had no idea the rumors and quisteons would have been all over the place. To avoid this she made sure her students were comfortable knowing when she returned, she would look different that she would not be able to hug them closely and they knew why. They were very loving and considerate and the parents also had lots of quisteons because of them had the same desires, but did not know anyone who had actually gone through the procedure. It is a very big deal and I think that your decision should be based on many elements and research. The bottom line is how your daughter is feeling now, and how she will feel afterwards. Her health: physical and mental; her emotional and spiritual welfare are crucial right now.

  2. Robert

    September 21, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    I already avoid soy since it’s well known to raise estrogen level, but good god 12 cups of soy milk a day? No wonder he started getting man boobs. For the record, I don’t think 12 cups a day of cows’ milk would’ve been all that good for him either.

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