Bread makes males breasts grow. It’s that simple.

Eat a roll, grow breasts. Eat pizza, grow breasts. Eat a sandwich, wrap, donut, sub, pretzel, or ciabatta, grow breasts. See those big tough guys on the construction site, all eating their Big Man sandwiches, or the cops sitting at the donut counter? Take off their tops and, yup, you will witness the B-cup results of repeated wheat consumption.

What is it about wheat that grows breast tissue, what I politely call The Dolly Parton Effect of wheat or, more crudely, Bagel Boobs? Several things:

A direct hormonal effect–Exorphins that are derived from the gliadin protein of wheat (specifically the B5 pentapeptide) stimulate pituitary release of the hormone, prolactin. “Pro” = promotes; “lactin” = lactation, or breast milk production. The B5 wheat exorphin doubles blood prolactin levels in experimental models (Fanciulli 2003). Increased prolactin levels then cascade, via a pituitary effect, to cause reduced production of testosterone by the testicles (“hypogonadism”), as well as erectile dysfunction.

An indirect hormonal effect–The visceral fat (deep abdominal fat) of a wheat belly–yeah, that unsightly protuberance that hangs over the belt in boys, teenagers, young males, mature adults, and elderly men, since it spares no one–produces large quantities of the enzyme, aromatase, that in turn converts androgens (male hormones), androstenedione and testosterone, to estrogen (Williams 2012). This occurs in breast tissue as well as other tissues.

So men with man boobs have higher levels of estrogen and prolactin and lower levels of testosterone, a hormonal mess that stimulates growth of breast tissue. Given this incredible collection of breast tissue-stimulating properties, you might say that modern wheat is a perfect breast growth stimulating food.

As is often the case when nutritional blunders lead to some distortion of health, the drug industry and the medical community come to the rescue with aromatase-blocking drugs and procedures like male breast reduction surgery, the fourth most common surgical procedure in males today.

The effect seems to be more powerful in males than females. This may be because females already have higher levels of the hormones that cause breast tissue to grow, while a male does not and any increase therefore has a greater effect on breast growth. Yes, bread–and all other things wheat–make breasts grow, making for embarrassing moments at the beach, jokes about Kramer’s ambitions for a “mansierre,” and hint at a profound distortion of metabolic and hormonal health. Yes, love is a like a butterfly . . . and male breasts are the tip of the hormonal iceberg.