Call them the “breast of the breast.” Male members of a German army battalion known as the Wachbataillon guard have developed an unusual condition that causes their left breasts to grow in size. Known as gynecomastia, male breast enlargement can occur as a side effect of diseases, disorders or medication, but in this rare instance, it’s believed to be the result of military drills in which the soldiers repeatedly strike themselves on the left side of their chests with their rifles.
Researchers looking into the phenomenon aren’t sure exactly how the chest trauma causes the breasts to grow, but the correlation between the chest thumping and the stimulation of glands that produce hormones seems clear: a whopping 74% of the guard members were found to be suffering from gynecomastia on the left side of their body. The soldiers also had lowered testosterone levels (affecting their estrogen-testosterone balance) and, interestingly, elevated body mass indexes (BMI), meaning they were more overweight than average healthy males. Still, researchers have pointed out that “There are no experimental studies identifying possible mechanisms at the cellular level that might induce gynecomastia mechanically,” although you would think this case certainly provides just cause for a new round of experiments.
Gynecomastia can be treated with drugs or by removing breast tissue, and the affected Wachbataillon soldiers are reportedly undergoing medical treatment for the condition, but it’s not clear yet if they have plans to alter their drill routines — something the head of plastic surgery at the military’s main hospital in Berlin recommends.
NBC News reports, seemingly with a straight face, that “Military officials have promised to keep an eye on the men’s breasts.” The lingering question is whether the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills will now start punching themselves in the boobs in lieu of a trip to the plastic surgeon.
(Sources: German Herald, The Body Odd)