Sunday, August 22, 2010

Yea, blame it on food

Bizarre effects on teens

KUALA LUMPUR: Is hormonal imbalance creating more male teenagers with breasts, while female teenagers are getting more hairy?

Cosmetic and aesthetic physician Dr Alice Prethima said she is seeing many cases of gynecomastia (enlargement of breasts in males) in her clinic.

But, she is also seeing teenage girls coming in because they have too much hair all over their body.

“Compared to the past, there are many girls with terrible hair problems. They are losing the hair on their heads and growing hair on other areas of their body where there shouldn’t be. And, the hair is so long and thick,” she said.

Dr Prethima attributed the abnormalities in male and female teenagers to the food chain and diet.

“Children are eating too much animal-based food, and those animals are fed with a lot of growth hormones.

“Our society has become more affluent. We may eat meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” she added.

She said bad oestrogens was also entering the body from plastic materials such as fizzy bottled drinks which “bleed” bad oestrogen.

“Those plastic containers that we use to warm our food, the polystyrene boxes in which we pack our food, the plastic bags that we pour the curry into, the roti canai we wrap in plastic – all of those bleed bad oestrogen substances. There is also a lot of pesticides, insecticides and bad oestrogenic substances in the environment, and this will manifest in different ways for those of different ages,” she added.

Dr Prethima said due to “xeno ostrogen”, instead of producing testosterone, the bodies of teenage boys are converting it to (harmful) 16 hydroxyoestrone, which results in the loss of hair and the development of acne, abdominal fat and abnormally-sized breasts.

Plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr V. Surendranathan said gynecomastia was now becoming very common among teenage boys, mainly due to the children’s eating habits and sedentary lifestyle.

“They are eating too much chicken and getting very little exercise. They are stuck in front of the television and computers all day.

“It’s very embarrassing for the boys to have breasts. They can’t even take off their T-shirt in school.”

Dr Surendranathan said he has even had to perform breast-reducing procedures on 13 and 14 years old boys. The former president of the Malaysian Association of Plastic, Aesthetic & Craniomaxillofacial Surgeons (Mapacs) said there has been a noticeable increase in such cases over the last few years.

Consultant plastic and cosmetic surgeon Dr Heng Kien Seng said he too has been seeing a lot of cases of teenage boys with gynecomastia, and he has had to perform breast reduction procedures on these boys so that they can regain the physical look of normal male chests.

Among the treatments available include liposuction, gland excision, and reduction mammoplasty.