Is Your Bra Strangling Your Breasts and Your Health?
A new study has found that up to 85 percent of the women in the United Kingdom are wearing ill-fitting bras, some of which are strangling women’s breasts and may be adversely affecting their health.
Breast health in relationship to wearing a bra typically focuses on the question of whether bras can cause breast cancer. While some studies have claimed or eluded to possible evidence that bras can cause breast cancer, the National Cancer Society states that this is a myth and that there is no scientific evidence that wearing a bra can cause cancer.
The origin of this myth can be attributed to a provocative 1995 book titled “Dressed to Kill” that claims that women who wear underwire bras up to 12 hours per day have a significantly higher risk of developing breast cancer than women who do not wear a bra. Following the publication of the book, a few studies came out seeming to support the claim by pointing out that women in countries where bras are not worn have lower incidences of breast cancer.
One of the primary mechanisms of action purported to account for the harm bras can cause was the hypothesis that underwire style bras compress the lymph nodes around the breasts and decreases circulation and lymph drainage which in turn results in a build-up of toxins that may promote tumor development.
The American Cancer Society refutes this hypothesis pointing out that the body’s fluids travel up and into the lymph nodes and not in the region where the underwire presses into the breast. Furthermore, other researchers note that looking at data analyzing women treated for melanoma who had their underarm lymph nodes removed—which blocks lymph drainage from breast tissue—do not have a detectably increased rate of breast cancer.
Former breast cancer surgeon Susan Love, MD and author of “Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book,” agrees that the belief that wearing a bra can cause cancer is a myth and explains that the reason why some women may hold onto this myth comes from the frustration of not knowing what causes the disease, coupled with a desire that the disease should come from the outside, from something a woman can control.