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Q: Several of my daughter's friends are taking a breast enhancement product from www.wonderbreast.com . They all say it works and now my daughter wants to try it. The only ingredient it contains is bovine ovary. What's your opinion of people taking bovine ovary? It doesn't sound very safe.

A: I cannot imagine anyone even thinking of taking an extract of ground-up cow ovary. This is simply a crude way of getting estrogen and who knows what else. It is true that as a vegetarian, I do not believe in animal source medications but with the problems with BSE (mad cow disease) I think there is good reason to avoid such products.

Estrogen is what causes the breasts to grow at puberty. Breasts usually grow a little more after periods start but are basically their adult size a year or two after that.

For a teenager with normal estrogen - which means nearly all girls with normal cycles -- adding more estrogen will usually not have much effect on breast size. Contemporary low dose birth control pills sometimes cause a slight increase and could be tried, if medically appropriate for that individual. The irony is that it is usually women whose breasts are already bigger than they want who experience further growth with the pill.

For reasons which are unclear, our culture is fixated on unrealistically large breasts. If one looks at nude paintings from earlier eras, which presumably depicted women who were considered very beautiful, their breast were not particularly large by modern standards. Unfortunately many women with perfectly normal sized breasts feel inadequate. To my mind it is better to appreciate being normal.

Very large breasts cause considerable discomfort and often attract unwanted attention so there is some value is being average here.

Hope this is helpful.


Geoffrey Redmond, MD

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