Can our bras kill us? Well, not mine – I don’t need one. I’m a card-carrying member of the Itty-Bitty Titty Committee. (But don’t worry, something else will kill me.) Yours, though: can it do you in?
There’s an argument floating around out there that restraining boobies causes cancer. Supporters of this view say all the wires and elastics interfere with the lymphatic system’s ability to drain those ubiquitously discussed toxins.
But don’t unhook just yet. Not everyone has leapt on the bra-is-bad bandwagon. Some pretty knowledgeable folks say you won’t lose your life to your lingerie.
What the experts say
“A bra, if tight, could constrict the lymphatic vessels beneath the skin that are responsible for draining the breast and removing toxins, so it’s certainly possible that wearing a bra that’s too tight for long periods of time, if it leaves red marks on your skin, might increase the risk of cancer. Never use an underwire bra. Try to find one that’s not tight. Other breast problems that can arise are cysts, tenderness, swelling, breast infections – especially in pregnant women. [Healthy breasts need] exercise, good diet, balanced hormones, minimal stress. Eat ground flaxseeds, at least 2 tablespoons every day. Take turmeric in curcumin capsules or add it to soup. And be vegetarian. Forty minutes a day of exercise reduces risk of breast cancer by about 60 per cent.”
SAT DHARAM KAUR, naturopath, author, The Complete Natural Medicine Guide To Breast Cancer, Owen Sound
“Wearing anything tight can compress the lymphatic vessels, prevent the proper cleansing of the tissue and cause fluid backup, or lymphedema. That leads to pain, cysts, tenderness and ultimately, because of the carcinogens in our air, food and water and the toxification of the tissue that isn’t being flushed out, cancer. In cultures where they don’t wear bras, they don’t have breast disease. If a woman wants to be on the safe side, she shouldn’t wear a bra at all. It’s an embarrassment to the medical establishment that they’ve ignored this. There’s nothing refuting our research, and there was a study at Harvard in 1991 that showed bra-free women had a lower rate of breast cancer.”
SYDNEY SINGER, co-author, Dressed To Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer And Bras, Institute for the Study of Culturogenic Disease, Pahoa, Hawaii
“There’s no evidence of any link between wearing a bra and developing breast cancer. The lymphatic fluid from the breast drains directly back toward the chest wall and the armpit and not underneath the breast where the bra might be tight. If you don’t like wearing a bra, don’t, but don’t think this will keep you from getting cancer. There are things we know reduce risk. Older women should only be on hormone replacement therapy for the shortest amount of time. Overweight women have an increased risk post-menopausally. The age at which you start and end your period or have children may be factors. Breastfeeding is known to reduce risk. No, there is no danger from wearing a bra.”
SUE ROCHMAN, medical editor, Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, Pacific Palisades, California
“There is absolutely no scientific evidence that anything Dressed To Kill says is remotely connected to the truth. They talk about ‘lymphatic drainage,’ ‘lymphatic stasis,’ all of these things allegedly leading to breast cancer. The people who wrote that book obviously have no idea about the anatomy and physiology of the breast. It’s nonsense. It’s even more nonsensical now that we know more about the molecular origin of cancers.”
GORDON F. SCHWARTZ, MD, professor of surgery, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia