Bras Aren’t the Enemy

Photo by tiritang

If you’ve spent anytime time online researching breast cancer prevention – “ditch the bras” rings loud and clear. Some say the pressure on the lymph nodes under the arm pits are to blame other they say the metal in the underwire acts as an antennae attracting an electronic magnetic field to your vulnerable fatty tissue. Well, I admit I still opt for a cute tank top (no under wire).. but it seems the bra myth has been debunked for now.  Here is a Q&A from New York Times from last February, that presents compelling info to let us hoist those puppies ..  or whatever euphemism it is that you want to use for creating that lovely cleavage.

Q. Is there any truth to the Internet rumor that the incidence of breast cancer is more than 100 times greater in women who always wear bras than in women who never wear bras?

A. “The short answer is no,” Dr. Ted Gansler, director of medical content for the American Cancer Society, replied in an e-mail message.

There is no scientifically credible evidence of this, he said, and the proposed mechanism — that bras prevent elimination of toxins by blocking lymph flow — is not in line with scientific concepts of how breast cancer develops.

Internet traffic on the issue is mostly inspired by one study with several scientific flaws, Dr. Gansler said. The study, never published in a peer-reviewed journal, did not adjust for known breast cancer risk factors that might be associated with bra-wearing behavior, like weight and age. Also, study participants knew the hypothesis before taking the survey.

“Because the idea of bras’ causing breast cancer is so scientifically implausible, it seems unlikely that researchers will ever spend their time and resources to test it in a real epidemiological study,” Dr. Gansler said.

He and colleagues compared National Cancer Institute data on breast cancer risk for women treated for melanoma who had several underarm lymph nodes removed and those who did not. The surgery, which is known to block lymph drainage from breast tissue, did not detectably increase breast cancer rates, the study found, meaning that it is extremely unlikely that wearing a bra, which affects lymph flow minimally if at all, would do so.

While we appreciate this info, and are relieved that our bras are not to be feared, we will keep abreast (pun intended) of the topic, and get back to you if the debunking has been bebunked 😉

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