Here’s a side effect of eating gluten that has gone largely unnoticed—is it making your breasts grow larger?
The answer is, quite possibly, yes. The proof is in the prolactin—a hormone associated with breast growth. A 2014 clinical trial found that people diagnosed with celiac disease had elevated levels of this hormone, but once they went gluten-free, prolactin decreased within six months. And since some sources of gluten like baker’s yeast, wheat, and barley contain high levels of estrogen, that might also contribute to extra buxomness.
Whether a sudden jump in bra sizes is a hassle or a blessing, it seems there is a connection between nutrition and overall breast health. Women with celiac disease have also shown a lower incidence of breast cancer, although research is not definitive as to whether cutting gluten is the reason for this. (If you decide ditch gluten for whatever reason, remember that there are a number of gluten-free grains that can fulfill your carb cravings and provide beneficial fiber—which you don’t want to miss out on—as well as protein.)
And don’t worry: most changes in the breasts don’t necessarily indicate cancer. Still, it never hurts to incorporate certain nutritious foods that also seem to promote overall breast health. They include:
- Rainbow produce: Carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables have been linked to a lower risk of certain types of breast cancer, due to their compounds that help regulate cell growth and have defensive and reparative properties. Load up on sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, broccoli, and dark leafy greens.
- Fatty fish: Omega-3 fatty acids from fish like salmon, black, cod, and mackerel have shown to reduce the likelihood of breast cancer by 14 percent.
- Pomegranates: Ellagic acid in pomegranates may protect by suppressing estrogen production that could lead to the growth of breast cancer cells.
- Green tea: A few studies have tied green tea to a lower risk of breast cancer due to its potent antioxidant compounds, catechins.
- Mushrooms: Eating fresh mushrooms may also reduce the risk of breast cancer, especially when combined with green tea.
- Walnuts: Walnuts may change the activity of some genes that are linked to breast cancer in both mice and humans, as well as slow the growth of cancer cells.
Whether you go gluten-free or not, remember that a balanced diet consisting of whole, unprocessed foods, including vegetables, fruit, healthy fats, and certain proteins and whole grains is always great for maintaining a healthy weight, healthy breasts, and staying hormonally balanced.
Illustration by Foley Wu