Breast Enlargement Pills and Drugs, Do They Work?

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Jill Daniels, Freelance Medical Writer

Jill Daniels is a freelance health writer based in New York City. She spent several years writing for WebMD, including their Weight Loss Clinic and Fertility Center programs. Jill has also written/reported for publications including InStyle, People and Women's Own. She received a degree in journalism for Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.


January 10 2008

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Numerous web sites, magazine ads and infomercials tout the amazing benefits of breast enlargement pills. Smiling women provide testimonials on how their lives have changed because of breast growth pills, how easy they are to take, and how much less expensive they are compared to breast augmentation surgery. But what are breast enlargement pills really all about?

Do Breast Enlargement Pills Work, and If So, How?
Breast enlargement pills are typically made up of various herbal ingredients. Some popular ingredients include: saw palmetto, blessed thistle, red clover, wild yam, kava, fennel, chaste-tree berry, black cohosh, and fenugreek. Many of the ingredients in breast enlargement pills have age-old folklore reputations as breast enhancers, and some ingredients are believed to have estrogen-like effects in the body, which might result in breast growth.

It's easy to get lured in when a little pill holds the promise of the buxom bust you've always wanted. Natural breast enhancement seems so simple! And dozens of online breast enhancement pill reviews make the products appear legitimate, though the bulk of these sites are run by the makers of the breast enlargement pills. However, it's important to be smart about what those little pills really contain – and if they can be dangerous.

Important Safety Concerns
Companies hawking breast enhancement drugs often exploit common misconceptions about herbal or "natural" remedies. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the pills probably don't work. And when it comes to the pills' safety, there are some important things you should know

  • Because breast enlargement pills are typically sold as herbal supplements they are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as foods rather than as drugs. And herbal supplements don't have to meet the same strict standards as drugs and over-the-counter medications for effectiveness, safety, or proper manufacturing practices.
  • Just because an herbal supplement is "natural" doesn't mean it is safe or has no harmful effects, according to the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Many herbal products can produce allergic reactions or have side effects.
  • Some products' active ingredients can be dangerous if they are combined with other medications, and they may interfere with prescribed drugs like birth control pills or diabetes treatments.
  • Certain herbal ingredients could potentially cause harmful effects on the body. For example, serious liver damage has been linked to consumption of the herb kava, which is a popular component in breast enlargement pills.
  • If the pills do in fact produce estrogen-like effects on the body, as many breast growth pills claim to, there could be other health concerns. Several types of cancer such as breast cancer are sensitive to estrogen and taking anything that acts like estrogen could become a real concern.

Be Wary of Quality Assurance
Because of how the FDA regulates herbal products, the word "standardized," "verified" or "certified" on a product label for a breast enlargement pill doesn't guarantee a higher-quality product. Although there are many reputable makers of herbal products, there are also many that have no qualms about labels that are less than truthful and products that do not contain what they are said to contain.

Unfortunately, many women do not discuss any herbal products they take with their physicians. Often, women decide to experiment with these pills without consulting their doctor, which means they may be putting their health in danger.

Alternatives for Achieving Larger Breasts
Breast size is genetically determined, like eye color or height. Weight gain or weight loss may affect the size of your breasts because it affects the amount of fat in your breasts. But, sadly, there is no way to gain weight just in your breasts. While exercise can help build the muscles beneath the breasts and provide the appearance of larger breasts, it doesn't actually increase breast size. As of now the most effective way you can substantially increase your breast size is through breast augmentation surgery.

While there's always a chance that breast enhancement pills will have some positive result, the possibility of negative side effects should be carefully considered.