Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I wanted to take a different spin on it and focus on the bra. While wearing a bra is uplifting (like my pun?), it sure has its downfall. More and more women are getting breast cancer. While diet, lifestyle, aging, and genetics can play a factor, the issues of the bra are rarely discussed. Could there be a connection? Could wearing a bra actually be bad for your health? You’re about to find out.
A bra can keep everything in place and feel more comfortable but from the research I read, it isn’t good for you. Bras cut off lymph drainage, which can contribute to the development of breast cancer. Why? Because it makes your body less able to excrete all the impurities we are exposed to on a daily basis. Over time, impurities accumulate and result in cysts, fibrokystes and even cancerous tumors.
Thermographic studies indicated that the bra, because of the fabric itself, also increases the temperature of the breasts. A pre-cancerous breast or cancerous breast is hotter than a non-cancerous one. How “hot” does that black lace bra look now?
A Very Brief History of the Bra
While women wore uncomfortable corsets for decades, the debut of the first modern brassiere was in 1913 when Mary Phelps Jacobs, a New York City socialite, got so frustrated that the cords of her corset sticking out around her neckline, she covered them with handkerchiefs and ribbon and attached it all together with cord. Word got around quickly and women started embracing Jacobs’ “contraption”. It was in November 1914 that a patent for the bra was issued and the “Backless Brassiere”was born.
A study conducted in 1930 linked a relationship between the bra and the increase in the number of women with breast cancer. Since then, numerous studies by researchers and doctors that are published but fall to deaf ears. Why? Because “brassiere manufacture is a multi-billion-dollar industry dominated by large multinational corporations.” 1
Another study conducted by medical anthropologists Sydney Singer and Soma Grismaijer revealed that women who do not wear bras have a much lower risk of breast cancer 2.
- 3 out of 4 women who wear a bra 24 hours a day could develop breast cancer- yes, apparently, some women wear their bras to bed
- Women who wore their bras more than 12 hours but not all night had a 1 out of 7 risk of developing breast cancer
- Women who never wore a bra or rarely did had a 1 out of 168 chance of getting breast cancer
Since 1978, there have been several medical studies in France, the USA, Japan and Great Britain that the bra actually facilitates the sagging of breasts. The ligaments and muscles that naturally support the chest stop working and start to atrophy. Over time, the breasts lose their firmness and start sagging. Now that may come as a surprise. It did for me.
Medical Studies and the Effects of not Wearing a Bra
At the beginning of a study conducted in 2009, 42% of the subjects felt a discomfort when not wearing a bra. After 3 months, however, they had no more discomfort. Three years of not wearing a bra later, the bra-less breasts had strengthened and not wearing a bra allowed the breasts to be naturally firmer and higher. Imagine that!
When a woman doesn’t wear a bra, the natural movement of the breast helps circulates lymph. When this natural movement is impeded, like when a woman wears a bra, the lymph no longer flows, impurities will accumulate and cysts and tumors may appear.
Here are some statistics about breast cancer3…
- 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over her lifetime.
- In 2014, an estimated 232,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 62,570 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.
- For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.
- Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. Just under 30% of cancers in women are breast cancers.
- A woman’s risk of breast cancer approximately doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. About 15% of women who get breast cancer have a family member diagnosed with it.
- About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.
Regardless, if you can’t imagine going braless and letting loose, here are a few suggestions:
- Don’t wear a tight fitting bra – Bras that are tight fitting are known to cut off lymph drainage, which can contribute to the development of breast cancer.
- Remove the underwire from your bra – if you must have underwire in your bra, replace the metal underwire with a plastic one. Your local fabric store may have them as well as online stores like BraMakersSupply.com.
- Wear bras that don’t have underwire. There are many stores that carry bras with no underwire but plenty of support.
- Go bra-less – It may feel weird at first but you’ll get used to it in no time.
So ladies, what do you think? Is your health worth putting away that Push Up bra? I know it is!
1 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_brassieres
2 – Dressed to Kill, 1995, Sydney Ross Singer, Soma Grismaijer, http://www.selfstudycenter.org/dressedtokill.htm
3 – http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics