The claim: Women can increase their breast size by drinking two cups of almond milk a day
U.S. almond milk production has boomed over the past decade, in part because of claims its health benefits are superior to those of cow's milk.
Non-dairy milk sales grew 61% from 2012 to 2017, according to the market research firm Mintel, with almond milk accounting for two-thirds of the market. At the same time, consumption of cow's milk has steadily decreased for decades.
From 2012 to 2017, the annual per-capita amount of cow's milk consumed by Americans has dropped from 20 gallons to 18 gallons, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 1975, it was 30 gallons a year.
Almond milk also has benefited from claims that it is a healthier alternative to cow's milk. In a 2018 interview with women's lifestyle website Refinery 29, dietician and food blogger Libby Mills pointed out that almond milk is low in calories and often fortified with calcium.
But some nutritionists say which type of milk is healthier is unclear. Dennis Saviano, a Purdue University professor of nutrition policy, told the Guardian in 2019 that cow's milk is rich in important compounds like calcium, potassium, protein and riboflavin.
"You can't make the argument it's not a nutritious food," he said.
But for women looking for a curvier figure, the latest claim may tip the scales toward almond milk. In a Nov. 26 Facebook post that was shared 121 times within four days, a poster named Laynee Tiu displayed a screenshot of a Google search that suggested drinking almond milk will increase the size of women's breasts.
"Google says almond milk is the secret..." wrote Tiu, who did not respond to USA TODAY's request for more evidence backing the claim.
The source of the post
Searching "does almond milk give you bigger breasts?" on Google will, in fact, bring users to a website that provides what it says is evidence for the claim: biggerbreastformula.com, an online guide that promises to "Increase Your Breast Size By A Minimum Of 2 Cups In 35 Days Or Less, Guaranteed!"
It's not apparent who is behind the website, as biggerbreastformula.com was registered through a proxy website in July 2018. The "about" section identifies the author as Sahar Perske, who writes that she studied natural breast growth for five years before learning techniques from her grandmother.
"Most of the women in my family have figured out a way to increase their breast size naturally," Perske wrote.
Perske did not respond to an email from USA TODAY asking for more information about herself and her research. In a separate website about the health benefits of the herb fenugreek, registered in 2012 through a proxy, Perske writes that she is from Canada, grew up in France and learned of the benefits of fenugreek while experimenting "to help increase my breast size."
In a post on the website about almond milk, Perske writes that drinking two large cups a day will lead to larger breasts. She adds that two daily handfuls of almonds also will create "a slight improvement in growth."
The key, she writes, is almonds' phytoestrogens, a plant-derived compound that binds to a cell's estrogen receptor, mimicking the hormone.
"This is why they are so powerful when it comes to breast growth from my experience," Perske writes.
However, biggerbreastformula.com comes with a significant caveat. On one page, Perske writes that she does not warrant that "the medical information on this website is complete, true, accurate, up-to-date or non-misleading."
Further, she writes, "this information is not advice and should not be treated as such."
But do almonds boost breast size?
Nutritional researchers say that biggerbreastformula.com overstates the power of phytoestrogens, plant-based compounds that to some degree mimic the animal and human female hormone estrogen. Estrogen released in puberty helps trigger breast growth.
"This is an entirely unsubstantiated (and bizarre) claim," Heather Patisaul, associate dean of research at North Carolina State University's Department of Biological Sciences, wrote in an email.
According to 2008 research by University of Reading food and nutritional sciences professor Gunter Kuhnle, about three-fourths of the phytoestrogen in almonds belongs to a class known as lignans. Phytoestrogens themselves create an estrogenic effect much weaker than what occurs naturally in the human body, and lignans are particularly weak, Kuhnle told USA TODAY in an email.
Only about 25% of phytoestrogens in almonds come from another class known as isoflavones. These act more like estrogen hormones found naturally in the human body. Compared to almond milk, they are much more prevalent in soy milk.
But neither almond milk nor soy milk will have the impacts claimed in biggerbreastformula.com, Patisaul wrote.
"There is no evidence whatsoever that these are meaningfully estrogenic, let alone enhance breast size," she wrote.
Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist and chief medical officer of Heali, a personalized nutrition app, wrote in an email that phytoestrogens actually can stunt breast growth. Though the topic has not been thoroughly studied, phytoestrogens bind to estrogen receptors, potentially blocking naturally occurring, stronger estrogen.
"In theory they could actually interfere with estrogen's effect on breast size," Jampolis wrote.
Also, almond milks generally do not even contain that many almonds, she wrote. The drinks mostly contain water, though they may include starches and thickeners.
Kuhnle took exception to one claim on biggerbreastformula.com: "Whatever amount you drink, it will never hurt you!" He wrote that consuming too much isoflavone increases the risk of hyperestrogenism, the state of having too much estrogenic activity in the body.
Hyperestrogenism can lead to a host of gynecological conditions, including uterine fibroids, endometriosis, fibrocystic breast disease, ovarian cysts, menstrual irregularities and forms of cancer.
Still, Kuhnle added, these issues will likely never happen from the consumption of soy milk or almond milk. Consumers need to be more worried about supplements that are high in phytoestrogen.
Our ruling: False
We rate the claim that drinking two cups of almond milk a day will increase a woman's breast size FALSE because it relies on nutritional claims unsupported by research. While almond milk does contain phytoestrogen, the compound has little impact on the body compared to naturally produced estrogen. Further, the class of phytoestrogens present in almond milk has particularly weak effects.
Our fact-check sources:
Interview with Heather Patisaul, associate dean of research at North Carolina State University's Department of Biological Sciences
Interview with Gunter Kuhnle, University of Reading food and nutritional sciences professor
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: Phytoestrogen Content of Beverages, Nuts, Seeds and Oils
Interview with Dr. Melina Jampolis
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: No evidence almond milk gives women larger breasts