Are Hormones in the Environment Making Women’s Breasts Larger?

From an average B to a C cup in 50 years: Is our modern lives making our breasts bigger?

Britain’s Daily Mail reports that women in England have larger breasts than even a generation ago. Women (and men) are getting fatter, but obesity alone does not account for most of the increase: Women are exhibiting a greater cup size in relation to the rest of their bodies.One theory suggests that they have simply begun wearing a properly sized bra. Women tend to choose bras with a larger band, when they really need a larger cup. Bravissimo, a bra manufacturer, recently began producing their largest cup size ever, “L”. But the increase in size can’t be attributed to poor fit alone. In the 50’s, the average woman wore a size B cup. Now she’s gone up to a C.

Dr Marilyn Glenville, a nutritionist ­specialising in women’s health and hormones, says: “It’s clear that we’re not just talking about fat, but increased levels of breast ­tissue, too.

“So we have to look at what stimulates breast tissue growth — and that’s estrogen, the female sex hormone. ­Estrogen is what changes our body shape during puberty.”

Glenville explains how it’s nearly impossible for a woman to avoid exposure to different forms of estrogen in the environment that affect sexual development:

  • This generation of women was born to the first group of moms who took the pill for long periods. We don’t yet know how this increased amount of estrogen in a mother’s system affects the fetus.
  • Putting off pregnancy, and shortened periods of breastfeeding, lead to more menstrual cycles and thus more estrogen. We know that women who take estrogen after menopause as part of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) see a breast increase of one or two cup sizes.
  • The presence of xenoestrogens, a synthetic type of super-estrogen, has been found in British rivers. These hormones, which most likely come from urine of women using estrogen for birth control and HRT, have led to a decrease in male sperm count. These hormones may affect women as well, including increased breast size. The xenoestrogens have been found in Israeli waters as well.
  • Bisphenol A (or BPA) is widely used in the ­manufacture of tinned food, drinks cans, plastic bottles, glass jars, ­electronic equipment and till receipts — to name but a few items. They are also present in deodorants, cosmetics, make-up and moisturizers.
  • Modern farming methods mean that much of the milk we drink comes from pregnant cows, which produce more estrogen.
  • A sedentary lifestyle means that modern women may metabolize hormones less quickly.

How about the Middle East? It’s hard to find statistics, but Israeli women appear concerned about small breast size, with a 700 percent increase in the number of breast enhancement surgeries since 2007. The number of breast reductions, which is  mainly performed to reduce back pain, has remained stable during the same period. Breast enhancement is popular in Saudi Arabia, too, where a recent Islamic ruling allows it.

::Daily Mail

More green posts on hormones and the environment:

What is Causing Breast Growth in Chinese Toddlers?

Environmental Toxin Dioxin Affects Milk Production in Mice – What Does This Mean For Us Humans?

Image via glenpooh

About Hannah Katsman

Hannah learned environmentalism from her mother, a conservationist before it was in style. Once a burglar tried to enter their home in Cincinnati after noticing the darkened windows (covered with blankets for insulation) and the snow-covered car in the driveway. Mom always set the thermostat for 62 degrees Fahrenheit (17 Celsius) — 3 degrees lower than recommended by President Nixon — because “the thermostat is in the dining room, but the stove’s pilot light keeps the kitchen warmer.” Her mother would still have preferred today’s gas-saving pilotless stoves. Hannah studied English in college and education in graduate school, and arrived in Petach Tikva in 1990 with her husband and oldest child. Her mother died suddenly six weeks after Hannah arrived and six weeks before the first Gulf War, and Hannah stayed anyway. She has taught English but her passion is parental education and support, especially breastfeeding. She recently began a new blog about energy- and time-efficient meal preparation called CookingManager.Com. You can find her thoughts on parenting, breastfeeding, Israeli living and women in Judaism at A Mother in Israel. Hannah can be reached at hannahk (at) greenprophet (dot) com.

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