Breast enlargement pills are ubiquitous in their advertising presence, particularly on the internet and in women’s magazines. Like penile enhancement pills and creams, they entice women in the hope of a natural and non-surgical means of enlargement. They are enticing because they appear to be an easy way to get larger breasts without the risks of surgery and the associated costs. Ironically, I have yet to be asked by a patient or an internet inquiry about whether breast enlargement pills really work. So I decided to do my own investigation into them.
Breast enlargement pills are sold basically as herbal supplements. As a result, they are not subject to the Food and Drug Administration’s scrutiny for safety and effectiveness. We must, therefore, rely on manufacturer’s claims and ‘studies’ that their products actually work. In looking at five different manufacturer’s websites and contacting three other ones to request study information (none of which was forthcoming), I discovered that the espoused data is mainly anectodal, historical, and suggestive. There are some limited clinical studies but the patient numbers are small and the studies are poorly designed from a scientific standpoint. Some of the picture evidence advertised suggests that there is probably some effect. The question is….is a 1/4 or 1/2 cup size enough?…..and are they safe?
Or to put it another way…..is a small breast size increase worth whatever their risks may be. Breast enlargement pills can only work by having an estrogen-like influence or causing fluid retention, both having a temporary breast enhancement effect. The active ingredients of these pills are herbs or combinations thereof. Some of these herbs include thistle, dong quai, fennel seed, fenugreek, hops, saw palmetto, wild yam, bovine ovary extract, kava, and chaste-tree berry. Many of these have some hormonal effect, some are known potential carcinogens, and others are had to figure what the association is between breast enhancement and its alleged properties. The problem with all of these breast enlargement pills is that their herbal ingredients have the potential to interfere with other commonly prescribed medications such as birth control pills, anticoagulants and diabetes medications. This means that any women with a medical condition or taking prescription medication should be cautious taking these pills.
It is likely that some of these breast enlargement pills do have a mild enhancing effect although the evidence to support their claims is not overwhelming. In my breast surgery experience, however, they are unlikely to create enough volume to make most users happy. Their results are only temporary unless the supplements continue to be taken. It is their long-term use that I think is the concern, as their safety beyond a few months of ingestion may be risky for some patients.
Dr. Barry Eppley