Breast enhancing supplements containing zearalenone could be increasing women's risk of breast cancer, warn UK medicos in the International Journal of Clinical Practice. Zearalenone (ZEN) - known as a mycoestrogen - is a naturally occurring toxin that elicits estrogenic responses in animals and humans.
"No clinical trials have been published on the use of potent estrogens like ZEN in bust-enhancing products and their use should be discouraged because of the lack of evidence of their long-term safety," says Professor Ian Fentiman, consultant breast surgeon with the National Health Service in London and author of the new study.
The use of ZEN to increase bust size is just one of the issues raised by the study. It also voices concerns about the use of ZEN to fatten up livestock, its use in hormone replacement therapy and oral contraceptives, its links with premature puberty and its possible association with cancer.
The use of ZEN in animal feed has been associated with a wide range of reproductive abnormalities in livestock, including diminished fertility and infertility, reduced litter size and smaller offspring and negative effects on the reproductive organs.
Other studies have suggested links between the consumption of ZEN and early puberty in females. These include an epidemic of premature breast development and early puberty in Puerto Rico, linked to dairy and meat products. "The European Union has banned using ZEN to fatten up cattle, a technique used in the USA since 1969, because of its links with precocious puberty," notes Fentiman.
He believes that future studies should investigate the effects of ZEN on the growth stimulation of hormone-dependent cancers and identify the key genes that promote hormone-dependent cancers. "Recently it has been suggested that some ZEN derivatives can increase the growth of hormone-dependent breast tumors. It has also been reported that, depending on the dose, ZEN can either promote or prevent breast cancer. So the jury on whether its links with breast cancer are positive or negative is well and truly out at this stage," he concluded.
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Source: International Journal of Clinical Practice