Bras do not always help

“Girl!  Where are you going without your bra?” is a common phrase women hear when they venture out in public braless. 

But according to recent talk, it looks like women may have a medical reason to “burn the bra” after all. 

With 182,460 women in the United States being diagnosed with breast cancer each year and 40,480 women in the U. S. dying from the disease, the topic of breast cancer and what causes it has recently resurfaced on talk shows such as “The Michael Baisden Show.”

In the book Dressed to Kill, published by husband and wife medical anthropologists Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer in 1995, Singer and Grismaijer found:

1).Women who wore their bras 24 hours per day had a 3 out of 4 chance of developing breast cancer.

2).Women who wore bras more than 12 hours per day but not to bed had a 1 out of 7 risk.

Singer and Grismaijer argue, while the bloodstream relies on the pumping of the heart to move blood, the effectiveness of the body’s lymphatic system to move wastes out of the body is highly dependent upon bodily movement.

Since the bra restricts breast movement, it reduces the lymphatic system’s ability to get rid of cancer-causing toxins in the breasts. 

Not everyone thinks there is a link between bras and breast cancer.

“There is no scientific evidence that proves that bras cause breast cancer,” said Claudia Rivers, a registered nurse at Sacred Heart Hospital of Pensacola who has been working in the medical field for 40 years.  “They really don’t know what causes breast cancer; so I don’t think there’s any validity to the idea.  In some cases, breast cancer is related to heredity.”

Besides the issue of heredity, some people feel there could be other factors, which the Singer and Grismaijer study did not take into account.

“Breast cancer may be about more environmental issues than just a bra,” said Erica Mayo, 24, a second professional year student at FAMU’s school of pharmacy from Lake City. 

“The wire from an under wire bra constantly poking into the breast could be a source.”

Although no one can say exactly what causes breast cancer, Mayo said, “Don’t wear bras that are too small.  Wearing the correct bra size is very important.”

Tamalia Lloyd, 24, agreed and said checking your breasts periodically are necessary.

“It’s important to have the right bra size, but the most important thing is self-breast exams,” said Lloyd, another second professional year student at FAMU’s school of pharmacy from the Caribbean Island of Saint Martin. “With Blacks in general, there is a stigma about touching themselves, but all women should go to their gynecologist and ask how to perform a self-breast exam so that women know what normal breast tissue feels like as opposed to tissue or masses that should not be there.”

Although some cancer researchers have labeled the bra as the culprit in the breast cancer issue, could the bra actually be helpful in some ways?

“For women who have large breasts, it can cause more harm not to wear a bra than to wear one because of the lack of support (and strain on the back) from not wearing a bra,” said Lloyd, who is currently conducting cancer research in Africa.

So what really causes breast cancer? 

Whatever the cause, here are basic tips that all women should adhere to:
1). Perform self-breast exams every month – and start when you have your first menstrual period.

2). Get your annual mammograms.

3). Wear the correct bra size.

4). Eat properly and workout to keep your overall health in check.