Is Going Braless Better for your Breasts?

The term going braless may be uncomfortable, unprofessional and for some women downright unthinkable. Men may even consider the issue provocative! Is it really ‘undress to thrill’ or ‘dressed to kill’? Let us consider the pros and cons and address the question:                                                

Is there a link between breast cancer and bras?

The History of Bras.

Women have used a variety of garments and devices to support, cover, restrain, reveal and modify the appearance of their breasts. From the 14th century onwards, the undergarment of choice of wealthier women in the west was dominated by the corset. In the latter part of the 19th-century bras replaced the corset as the most widely used means of support. Thus the girdle was developed to support the ladies’ torso. 

Commercial production really started in the 1930s and during the 20th century, greater emphasis has been given to the fashion aspect of bras and of course, has developed into a multi-billion dollar industry. However, the question still needs to be addressed.


Are Bras Increasing the Incidence of Breast Cancer?


There are publications that suggest a link between wearing a bra and Breast Cancer. One book called “Dressed to kill” has highlighted some startling figures. In the preparation of this book, the author interviewed 4000+ women in five major American cities over two years. Half of the women had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. They found some interesting patterns. It was discovered that women who do not wear Bras have a much lower risk of Breast Cancer.

1. Wearing a bra 24 hours a day increases the incidence over 100 times that of a bra-free woman.

2.Wearing a bra many hours a day gives you a 1 in 7 chance of developing Breast Cancer.

3. Not wearing a bra, not at all has been linked in a study to reduced  chance of developing Breast Cancer.

4. Within one month of ditching their bras, women with cysts, breast pain, or tenderness found their symptoms disappeared!

5. In a Chinese study they found that NOT sleeping in a bra was protective against breast cancer, lowering the risk 60%.

The Dressed to Kill book research argued  that the link between Bras and Breast Cancer is about 3 times greater than the link between Cigarette smoking and Lung Cancer. 

An article published over 20 years ago in 1991 in the European Journal of Cancer found that premenopausal women who did not wear bras had half the risk of Breast Cancer compared with bra users. Other nationalities, for example, the Japanese and Fijians, and other cultures were found to have a significantly higher risk of developing Breast Cancer when they started wearing bras. This study by Japanese researchers also found that wearing bras can lower your melatonin levels and that melatonin has anti-cancer properties as well as being vital for regulating sleep. After all, melatonin is a naturally occurring antioxidant in our bodies.

The studies that I have mentioned do not offer definitive proof of a casual relationship, but they do ask a pertinent question that hasn’t been raised in any public forum until today. One may question the reason for this lack of information.

Are there any problems associated with being cautious and having bra-free periods in the evening?

Could a behaviour modification help in reducing the occurrence of Breast Cancers?

Could this simple undertaking of going braless improve our ladies’ health?

A 15-year study by professor Jean-Denis Rouillon found that medically, physiologically, and anatomically breasts gained no benefit from their weight being supported by a bra. Apart from alleviating back pain and pressure, their use is cosmetic. 

Is this desire for ‘perky’ breasts costing women their health?


When Should You Wear a Bra?

While it makes sense to wear a regular or sports bra when exercising, you should remove it when you get home. Don’t wear it in bed. You could also wear your bra slightly looser and select bras made of softer and malleable material by avoiding underwires. Bralettes made from soft cotton or lace are the wiser option, in my opinion, as they offer some support without putting so much pressure on your breasts. If you really need that extra support remember to definitely not wear it at night and to have breast rest time if at all possible. 


What is the Issue with Constantly Wearing Bras?


Tight bras and underwires restrict lymphatic drainage, promoting congestion and stagnation of toxic chemicals. These toxic chemicals are supposed to be flowing out of the breast area for excretion, not to be caught up in a traffic jam leading to tissue damage, infection, swelling and pain.

Restriction on these lymphatic vessels also reduces the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the surrounding areas. Therefore, it is possible that repeated inflammation from constricting bras could be implicated in painful breasts, lumps, cysts and scar tissue. All these symptoms could potentially contribute to an increased risk of Breast Cancer.

Maybe it is time to slide the wire out of your bra, to reduce pressure, or better still just take it off. These recommendations could also apply to restrictive underwear in both women and men, so now you no longer need to have an excuse to get your kit off!

The message here is to be conscious of how many hours per day you are wearing your bra and to release your breasts. Allow your boobs to move more freely to encourage lymphatic flow and drainage. After a long day of wearing a bra, massage your breasts to aid natural lymph flow to reduce problems in the future.

Edward O’Reilly

Lifestyle Pharmacist, who had lots of help writing this article from his better half.


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