Presently, a controversy exists concerning the possible risks related to bras and breast cancer. Rather than take one side or another, we will first present the argument from Ralph Reed, Ph.D. who takes the position that there is a correlation between bras and breast cancer and then follow Reed’s position with the position of the American Cancer Society which downplays Reed’s opinion. By doing this, we offer our readers the opportunity to think for themselves and should they be interested, spark their own investigation and arriving at their own conclusion one way or another.
The Position of Ralph Reed Ph.D. on Bras and Breast Cancer
Ralph Reed Ph.D. (Biochemistry) cites an article from the National Library of Medicine which notes a difference between breast cancer rates in women who wear bras and those who do not. The article suggests that breast cancer is more prevalent in the population of women who wear bras.
Reed also cites the work of Singer and Grismaijer from their book “Dressed to Kill”, Avery Press, 1995 which correlates an increased risk of breast cancer especially if bras are worn for more than 12 hours per day. The following is Reed’s summary of Singer and Grismaijer’s research:
- Women who wore their bras 24 hours per day had a 3 out of 4 chance of developing breast cancer (in their study, n=2056 for the cancer group and n=2674 for the standard group).
- Women who wore bras more than 12 hour per day but not to bed had a 1 out of 7 risk.
- Women who wore their bras less than 12 hours per day had a 1 out of 152 risk.
- Women who wore bras rarely or never had a 1 out of 168 chance of getting breast cancer. The overall difference between 24 hour wearing and not at all was a 125-fold difference.
Reed cites that there are multiple reasons which contribute to breast cancer and the use of bras:
- Bras restrict the natural movement of the breasts which results in decreased lymphatic flow which in turn leads to decreased oxygen to the breast tissue. This subsequently leads to formation of fibrosis within the breast which in and of itself is a risk factor for breast cancer according to Reed. Reed asserts that the subtle movement of the breasts associated with walking, running and other movement promotes improved lymphatic flow within the breasts resulting in proper removal of toxins thereby promoting a healthier environment within the breast tissue. Reed cites an even greater risk with wire bras compared to those without underwires due to their increased tendency to restrict lymphatic flow.
- Reed also cites the fact that breasts are external organs that would naturally have a lower temperature than internal organs. Because even slight changes in temperature can alter hormone function, Reed proposes that because cancers can be both hormone and temperature dependent, a plausible contributing mechanism to breast cancer risk may be the result of slight alterations in temperature caused by bra usage.
- More recently, Singer and Grismaijer have been involved in a study to determine if fibrocystic breast disease can be effectively treated by the cessation of bra usage over an eight week period.
The Position of The American Cancer Society on Bras and Breast Cancer:
“There are no scientifically valid studies that show a correlation between wearing bras of any type and the occurrence of breast cancer. Two anthropologists made this association in a book called Dressed to Kill. Their study was not conducted according to standard principles of epidemiological research and did not take into consideration other variables, including known risk factors for breast cancer. There is no other, credible research to validate this claim in any way.”