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Is chronic nipple piercing associated with hyperprolactinemia?


Literature on hyperprolactinemia in the setting of a nipple piercing is limited to individuals with concomitant breast/chest wall infection. It is unclear if chronic nipple stimulation from a piercing alone can cause sustained elevations of serum prolactin. Nipple piercing is emerging as a more mainstream societal form of body art, and the answer to this clinical question would potentially alter patient management. Our aim was to assess serum prolactin levels in subjects with nipple piercing. Inclusion criteria were as follows: men and women ≥18 years old with nipple piercing(s) present >6 months. Exclusion criteria included: women who are pregnant, lactating or <6 months postpartum; subjects on medications known to increase prolactin levels; chest wall/breast infection at the time of phlebotomy or conditions known to be associated with hyperprolactinemia. Three men and eight women were enrolled. Median (range) ages for men and women were 33 (24–42) and 27 years (23–42), respectively. All except one subject had bilateral piercings. The median interval from nipple piercing to blood draw was 4.0 (2.0–12.0) years. None of the subjects had hyperprolactinemia. Median (range) prolactin levels for men and women were 5.6 ng/mL (3.8–7.4) and 8.0 ng/mL (2.8–10.9), respectively. Our results suggest that in the absence of any concomitant infection, chronic nipple piercing is not associated with hyperprolactinemia.

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We are indebted to Robert Kreller (Pathology & Laboratory Medicine Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation) for the processing of the prolactin samples and to Christina Reed (Department of Preventative Cardiology, Cleveland Clinic Foundation) for assistance in recruitment for this study.

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Correspondence to Betul Hatipoglu.

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Sun, G.E.C., Pantalone, K.M., Gupta, M. et al. Is chronic nipple piercing associated with hyperprolactinemia?. Pituitary 16, 351–353 (2013).

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  • Nipple piercing
  • Hyperprolactinemia
  • Prolactin
  • Nipple stimulation