Of leggings and top, the young woman looked really upset when she posted, last week, a TikTok recorded at a gym in Oslo, Norway. Between weight machines, Emma saw herself in the mirror. In the eyes of the 17-year-old girl, the image reflected that her breasts had grown after she had taken the Pfizer vaccine.
The post caught the attention of NRK, the Norwegian television network. Live and in color, Emma repeated the story, still mired in the idea that Pfizer’s immunizing agent would increase the bust.
The doctor invited to comment on the case on the air explained what, in his view, might be behind this impression—a transient reaction to the vaccine, he guessed—and with that he reassured the girl. Her breasts would soon return to their former normals, he assured her.
But for what! To appear on national television was to light a match in a haystack and show the firepower of such influencers in this connected world — figures catapulted by social networks that often only deserve this title for influencing a crowd to believe in things without reason.
Hundreds of influential Norwegians started posting the before and after the Pfizer vaccine on the same day, parading in bikini and bra at the timeline. Some wanting their more shy ways back, complaining about the increase in bra numbers one or two. Others even showed off happily, thinking that the immunizing agent would have filled what time had withered.
The game — taken seriously by those who really noticed something different, as Emma must have done — even crossed the seas and, in the United States, some young women also joined the before-and-after of Pfizer.
Let the wave hit here, won’t you? So, girls, let me tell you: hold back the urge to selfie, TikTok and Reels, because it’s not like that.
swollen lymph nodes
When you get any vaccine, there is usually a local reaction. Arm or butt, it doesn’t matter—where the injection was given everything is sore and sometimes even a lump appears, red and hard, right where the needle took.
A systemic reaction can also occur, which spreads throughout the entire body. Then, it’s that story of having a fever, getting bitter from a break, feeling a hell of a malaise and even feeling sick, even though you’re wasting your health.
The reason is the same as always: the inflammatory process while the body mounts its defenses, instigated by vaccination.
“And finally, there may also be a regional reaction”, says the mastologist Vilmar Marques de Oliveira, professor at the Faculty of Medical Sciences of Santa Casa de São Paulo and president of the Brazilian Society of Mastology. The name says it all: it would take the entire region of the body closest to the place of the bite.
In this type of reaction, the lymph nodes, which are organs of the immune system, are full of work. In fact, full to the letter. Now, the enemy – even if false, being the one injected by the vaccine – is drained into these small structures that are concentrated in the groin, armpits and neck. “Those closer to the application site may even increase in size or become hyperplasia, which would be the precise term in medicine”, says Professor Marques.
Dr. Fernanda Philadelpho, coordinator of the Dasa network’s breast radiology sector in Rio de Janeiro, explains that this is not surprising: “We know that this is happening to one in ten people who take the vaccine against covid-19. These axillary nodes are benign. And if they swell, it’s always on the same side of the arm where the injection was given.”
Parentheses: in the last few weeks, these large lymph nodes have made people talk. When noticing them after the vaccine, many women were terrified. Is that when you notice that they are enlarged, the head immediately thinks of a breast tumor. “But the vaccine has nothing to do with cancer”, warns Dr. Fernanda.
To avoid confusion, even when taking tests such as a mammogram, the woman needs to inform if she has been taking the vaccine in the last few days and in which arm it was given. “So, if by chance we find a lymph node there, on the same side, without a visible lesion in the breasts, we don’t even have a biopsy done right away. Better to wait to redo the exam four weeks later,” says the doctor.
This is the range for the lymph nodes to shrink to their original size. And, as far as anyone knows, they are the only ones that grow when a woman receives a vaccine from Pfizer or another. Oops, remembering that lymph nodes in the armpits can also grow in men who have protected themselves from covid -19.
Could it be the nodes that make the breasts enlarge?
“Attention, there is no case in the scientific literature reported so far of breast growth as an adverse effect of immunizing agents against Sars-CoV 2”, emphasizes Professor Vilmar Marques.
And the mastologist makes it clear: as there is no record of this type of reaction among scientists, any explanation for the phenomenon trumpeted by the Norwegians will be pure speculation. Some European vehicles have hinted, for example, that such swollen axillary lymph nodes would kind of push or push the breasts out. But it would be anatomically improbable.
“Instead, we could even imagine the following: much of the volume of the breasts is lymph and this fluid is constantly drained to the lymph nodes. Who knows, because they are so enlarged and crowded with defense cells, this drainage would be more difficult in some cases” , risks the teacher.
Thus, by accumulating lymph inside them, the breasts would remain swollen for a few days or weeks after the vaccine – and would appear larger, as happens in the premenstrual period, but then due to a natural proliferation of the cells of these glands during this phase of the cycle female hormone.
Between us, although this assumption is more plausible than thinking about armpit ganglia pushing the breasts forward, Vilmar Marques confesses that, deep down, he doesn’t believe in her. “Even because only the breast on the side that received the vaccine would be swollen”, he ponders.
But if this swelling were ever confirmed due to lack of adequate lymph drainage into the nodes, it would not be caused by Pfizer’s vaccine alone. After all, other immunizers against covid-19 are also causing the enlargement of axillary lymph nodes. “So much so that we have the idea of starting to ask, at the time of the mammogram, what was the vaccine taken and compare this information with the image of the breasts to, over time, see which immunizers would cause this type of reaction more frequently”, he adds. Fernanda Philadelpho.
Mammary gland reaction?
In Europe, some vehicles announced that the phenomenon of breast enlargement, if proven, would be a temporary response of the breasts themselves to the vaccine. Misconception. “They are not organs of the immune system, with lymphoid tissue, full of white blood cells. Therefore, they are totally indifferent to whether or not you have received an immunizing agent”, informs Professor Marques.
There are even some lymph nodes scattered in the breasts, recalls the breast cancer specialist. “But they’re so tiny that they’re not even seen well on imaging exams. They shouldn’t be behind this supposed growth. In this story, we can forget about them,” he adds.
Didn’t you get fat?
This is Dr. Vilmar Marques’ bet — at least to explain the increase in busts of most of the women who made the report after watching the interview with Emma. They could have been suggested and realized something prior to the vaccine.
“Nothing determines the volume of the breasts, which is always floating, more than the amount of fat in the body”, he guarantees. “I don’t know in Norway, but data from Brazil show that women have gained, on average, 5 kilos since the beginning of the pandemic.”
It is for this reason, too, that breasts can grow as age advances. “The metabolism becomes slow and with that, in menopause, the woman tends to gain weight”, observes the professor. The fat swells up the chest and may not go away that quickly in four weeks like the swollen lymph nodes.
If, by chance, this bloating theory ever makes sense, be aware that not only covid-19 vaccines swell lymph nodes for a while. For those who would like this Cinderella effect, the flu vaccine is one of them. Take the hint, because we are well into the flu season, if you have not already been vaccinated against infection with the influenza virus and if you cannot find a truly serious and important reason to join the vaccination queue.