ASA ruling – Breast Assured

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I laid a complaint with the ASA against this product's claims, as advertised at http://www.breastassured.co.za/ which made, among other, the following claims:

  1. That drinking the product will increase breast size
  2. That the product has been proved to work

The ASA asked the company for substantiation, and as these claims are impossible to be proved true, ruled in my favour which means the product needs to remove these claims from their website and products.

I argued that, among other, that the following claims need to be looked at:

  1. The Breast Assured Cream is a proprietary blend of herbs and plant extracts that have been proven to increase a woman's breast size by stimulating natural new breast cell growth in the mammary glands.
  2. My comment: Requires substantiation, otherwise not true and misleading.

  3. The Breast Assured cream in essence stimulates and replicates the natural growth process, experienced during both puberty and pregnancy.

    My comment: Requires substantiation, otherwise not true and misleading.

  4. The main ingriendent has been researched in Thailand for many years with astounding results. The active ingredients go direct to the desired enlargement areas via our advanced micro-abrasive transdermal delivery system, thus delivering more effective and faster results. The Breast Assured Cream helps firm, fulls out the breast size and shape, while helping tone breast muscle and reduce stretch marks.

    My comment: Requires proof that the ingredients are absorbed through the skin, i.e., even if the ingredients have proof of being able to have some effect orally, there is no proof that the ingredients are absorbed through the skin.

  5. Results  can be seen in as little as 7-20 days. For full permanent results the product requires use of 6-7 months for maximium (sic) growth.

    My comment: Requires substantiation, otherwise not true and misleading.

  6. Thousands of women have used the herbal approach and many doctors are currently recommending this method rather than surgery.

    My comment: Requires substantiation, otherwise not true and misleading.

  7. Breast Assured™ contains 9 essential nutrients, all pharmaceutically prepared and packed.

    My comment: Requires substantiation, otherwise not true and misleading.

  8. With no undesirable side effects, Breast Assured™ helps stimulate the growth of new breast tissue, and can firm and tighten the entire breast area.

    My comment: Requires substantiation, otherwise not true and misleading.

  9. You can expect to see fuller firmer breasts within 8-12 weeks, while you can gain up to one or even two full cup sizes within 9 months.

    My comment: Requires substantiation, otherwise not true and misleading.

  10. The results achieved are permanent, as the new tissue will not diminish even when you have stopped using the tablets.

    My comment: Requires substantiation, otherwise not true and misleading.

  11. Breast Assured’s herbal formula naturally stimulates changes in the levels and concentration of these hormones, increases the levels of GF compounds and results in the storage of new fat in the breast's connective tissue.

    My comment: Requires substantiation, otherwise not true and misleading.

  12. combines an exotic mix of rare botanicals that naturally contain estrogenic properties.

    My comment: Requires substantiation – “rare” and “exotic”, and “naturally contain estrogenic properties “otherwise not true and misleading.

 

http://www.asasa.org.za/ResultDetail.aspx?Ruling=5106

Breast Assured / HA Steinman / 14951

 

Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
Dr Harris SteinmanComplainant(s)/Appellant(s)
LifeCode ccRespondent

08 Apr 2010

Dr Steinman lodged a consumer complaint against Breast Assured™ advertisement that appeared on the website www.breastassured.co.za promoting its breast enlargement cream and capsules.

The advertisement lists, inter alia, the composition and application of the product, and states as follows:

“Breast Assured™ Cream
The Breast Assured Cream is a proprietary blend of herbs and plant extracts that have been proven to increase a woman’s breast size by stimulating natural new breast cell growth in the mammary glands. The Breast Assured Cream in essence stimulates and replicates the natural growth process, experienced during both puberty and pregnancy.

The main ingredient has been used and researched in Thailand for many years with good results. The active ingredients go directly to the desired enlargement areas via our advanced micro-abrasive transdermal delivery system, thus delivering more effective and faster results. The Breast Assured Cream helps firm, fulls out the breast size and shape, while helping tone breast muscle and reduce stretch marks.

Results can be seen in as little as 2-20 days. For the full permanent results the product requires use of 6-7 months for maximum growth.

Breast Assured™ Capsules
Thousands of women have used the herbal approach and many doctors are currently recommending this method rather than surgery … Breast Assured TM contains 9 essential nutrients, all pharmaceutically prepared and packed. With no undesirable side effects, Breast Assured™ helps stimulate the growth of new breast tissue, and can firm and tighten the entire breast area … You can expect to see fuller firmer breasts within 8 – 12 weeks, while you can gain up to one or even two full cup sizes within 9 months. The results achieved are permanent, as the new tissue will not diminish even when you have stopped using the tablets.

How it works…
… Breast Assured’s herbal formula naturally stimulates changes in the levels and concentration of these hormones, increases the level of GF compounds and results in the storage of new fat in the breast’s connective tissue … Breast AssuredTM combines an exotic mix of rare botanicals that naturally contain estrogenic properties …

Here are some of the benefits of balancing the female hormonal system:

• Increase Breast firmness and size (if under developed)
• Noticeable enlargement in weeks
• Decreased PMS symptoms
• Increased libido
• Improved mood
• Assists in regulating female hormones
• Increase in total well-being
• Many women also report accelerated hair and nail growth as well increased sexual desire.

BREAST ASSUREDTM DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR OVERALL BODY WEIGHT, OR CAUSE YOU TO GAIN ADDITIONAL WEIGHT.”

The advertisement also contains an extract from the “Breast Enlargement Magazine”, as well as several testimonials and ingredient specific information.

COMPLAINT
In essence, the complainant submitted that the efficacy claims made in the advertisement cannot be substantiated and are therefore misleading. The complainant also submitted that the advertisement has testimonials that cannot be used. In addition, the respondent’s products contain Damiana which is an illegal substance to use in products.

Finally, the complainant question whether there is any way of establishing whether or not the owners of this website are the same as those of other products previously ruled against by the ASA.

RELEVANT CLAUSES OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE
In light of the complaint, the following clauses of the Code were taken into account:

• Section II, Clause 4.1 – Substantiation

• Section II, Clause 4.2.1 – Misleading claims

• Section II, Clause 10 – Testimonials

RESPONSE
The respondent thanked the Directorate for bringing its attention to the Code and its website. It undertook to correct the claims highlighted by the complainant within 14 days to show that results are from testimonials not from clinical trials.

It added that this product is aimed at people who believe in a natural approach, and alternative healing, and will only be discovered by those who search for it.

In addition, it confirmed that the product no longer contains Damiana.

ASA DIRECTORATE RULING
The ASA Directorate considered the relevant documentation submitted by the respective parties.

The respondent pointed out that its website will likely only be discovered and scrutinised by people who have a tendency to believe in alternative medicine and the efficacy of herbal treatments. It is therefore not appropriate to label the content as misleading.

While the Directorate accepts that this product may potentially be aimed at a specific market, it rejects the respondent’s argument that this market believes in such products and is therefore not likely to be misled.

When it comes to the efficacy of any product, the ASA has never adopted a “they believe it so it must be true” approach. The requirements of Clause 4.1 of Section II, which deals with the expectations of substantiating claims are clear in that any substantiation must be scientifically sound, and verified by reputable experts. The claims objected to by the complainant are clearly capable of objective verification as required by the Code, and as such should be held to the same criteria as any other advertising making efficacy claims.

In addition, the Code defines a “consumer” as any person “who is likely to be reached or exposed to an advertisement. This includes an end customer, user, or trade customer”. From this it is clear that the fact that the respondent’s likely customers are prone to believing in alternative approaches to health issues has no material impact on the matter.

Testimonials
In any dispute before the Directorate, the complainant has an obligation to clearly state his grounds for objecting. In the absence of such grounds, both the respondent and the Directorate are at a disadvantage, because there is no way of knowing why the objection was raised.

The complainant argued that “the website also has testimonials which I argue cannot be used”. No explanation was provided as to why these testimonials may not be used.

Clause 10 of Section II lists the relevant criteria for using testimonials. These include, inter alia, that they should be genuine, should not contravene any provisions of the Code, should still hold up to the requirements of the Code’s provisions on substantiation, and should be available in a signed and dated form.

The complainant has not indicated whether any of these requirements have been contravened, and as such, the Directorate cannot consider this aspect of the complaint.

Efficacy claims
At the outset, it must be noted that medicinal products cannot be treated as an ordinary general commodity. They have the potential for harmful as well as beneficial effects and can cause serious problems if not used safely. For this reason, there are specific regulations that strictly control the advertising and promotion of medicinal products.

The scope of this ruling is limited to the subject matter of the complaint brought to the ASA; namely, whether the claim concerning the efficacy of the respondent’s product can be substantiated. The ASA is not able or authorised to rule on the quality or safety of the product in question, and this ruling must be interpreted and applied accordingly.

The ASA has a long standing principle which holds that where an advertiser provides an unequivocal undertaking to withdraw or amend its advertising in a manner that addresses the concerns raised, the undertaking is accepted without considering the merits of the matter.

In response to the complainant’s allegations, the respondent confirmed that most aspects have not been clinically tested, and that it would either withdraw or correct the relevant statements.

The Directorate, at this time, accepts this undertaking as an adequate resolution to the concerns raised in relation to the relevant claims.

This undertaking is, however, accepted on condition that the relevant claims are withdrawn and / or amended within 14 days from the date of this ruling in accordance with the deadline proposed by the respondent.

The respondent is also cautioned that the ASA does not accept anecdotal evidence, or ingredient-based substantiation irrespective of whether ingredient-based claims are made.

What the Code requires is independent verification from a credible expert in the relevant field to confirm that the claims made are adequately supported by acceptable scientific data and apply to the product as a whole, when used as recommended.

Remaining claims
The exception to the respondent’s undertaking to amend or withdraw claims relate to the following claims which the respondent argued are fair and correct:
 

  • “Many doctors are currently recommending this method [herbal approach] rather than surgery”
     
  • References to the magazine article in “Breast Enlargement Magazine”,

In relation to “Many doctors are currently recommending this method [herbal approach] rather than surgery”, the respondent argued that depending on who you include in the comparison, the number of doctors who subscribe to such an approach would be millions. Obviously, when drawing from a sample of allopathic doctors, a considerably smaller number would surface. However, given that the product was formulated with the help of a Homeopathic doctor and is bought and sold by many such doctors, the statement is fair and accurate.

The Directorate is not convinced by this argument. Taking into consideration that the product is punted as an alternative to actual surgery, which is done by specialist surgeons, a hypothetical reasonable person would assume that the claim implies that many doctors in the field of breast augmentation (in other words these specialist surgeons) are “currently recommending this method rather than surgery”.

While the Directorate would not expect the respondent to source opinions from all such doctors, there are means of surveying such doctors in a manner that would conform to the requirements of the Code, and give an accurate and representative indication of the opinions of such doctors. The respondent has not submitted any such documentary evidence.

In light of this, the claim “Many doctors are currently recommending this method rather than surgery” is currently unsubstantiated and in breach of Clause 4.1 of Section II of the Code.

The respondent is therefore required to:
 

  • Withdraw the claim in its current format,
     
  • Ensure that the claim is withdrawn with immediate effect,
     
  • Ensure that the withdrawal of the claim is completed within the deadlines stipulated in Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide, and
     
  • Ensure that the claim is not used again in future.

This aspect of the complaint is upheld.

As far as the “Extract From Breast Enlargement Magazine” is concerned, this appears to be editorial content.

With any dispute relating to website, the Directorate is mindful that not all content qualifies as advertising. Various aspects of websites are editorial in nature, and customers are often afforded an opportunity to engage the advertiser and negotiate price etc. (refer SAA Airport Taxes / B Phillips / 7144 (15 November 2006) or Protea Hotels / A Muller / 14326 (26 November 2009) for example). The ASA therefore cannot consider entire websites blindly, as it has no jurisdiction over editorial material, and issuing a ruling on such material would be contrary to its own mandate.

The content referred to by the complainant appears at the bottom of the respondent’s home page, under a clear heading “Extract From Breast Enlargement Magazine”

It is clearly written in a general manner, and even appears in inverted comma’s, which would indicate to any reader that it is a quote from the relevant source. While the Directorate is mindful that quotes can also be used as advertising, it cannot ignore the fact that the relevant “Extract” is not product specific.

Given that the relevant content appears separate and under a clear heading “Extract From Breast Enlargement Magazine”, the Directorate is of the opinion that this is editorial material, which it does not have the jurisdiction to rule on.

The Directorate can therefore not rule on this aspect of the complaint.

Repeat offenders
The complainant questioned whether or not the owner of the respondent’s website has been considered and ruled against by the ASA previously.

The respondent denied this, and the Directorate was unable to find any record of rulings against the respondent. As such, this does not appear to be a case where an advertiser has simply changed the name of its product to continue marketing.

 

 

 

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9 Responses to ASA ruling – Breast Assured

  1. claudine 14 June, 2010 at 10:45 am #

    there has been a definite increase in my bust size since using the product.  as a matter of fact, 2 cup sizes.  i went from a 34b to a 34d!!  the only problem being that when i stopped using the capsules it seemed that my breasts began to sag. 

    • Harris 14 June, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

      Hi Claudine,
      Thanks for your comment. Of course I argue that there is simply no scientific evidence for this to occur, but you raise a significant point that even if it were possible, one may have to continue taking the product for ever. Imagine having to pay a large sum of money every month to prevent the changes from reversing!

  2. Rachel 21 February, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    Hi
    Should I be able to afford this product, will it work for me as I'm now 45, have had Hysterectomy, and would like to make them firm again.
    Ihave tried so many products with empty promises.

  3. Harris 21 February, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

    No, it will not work, it is a scam.

  4. simpa 20 May, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

    breast assured??

  5. Mbali Sibande 7 September, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    Due to breastfeeding, my breast are now sagging and i want to reverse them to their originaql size and form. Does the product work or should i consider breast surgery.

  6. Harris 7 September, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

    Since this is not my field of practice, I do not know what to suggest, except to point out that there are no pills, no creams, that will firm breasts – they are mostly scams.

  7. carol 19 November, 2011 at 7:02 am #

    Hi, am at my wits end and am willing to try anything?,,,but this post has really disturbed me, tx for publishing this

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