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PREVENT

Do I need a break from my bra?

From cancer to sore backs to breast sagginess; bras have been attributed to a wide range of health concerns, leaving some women asking, “Should I take a break from my bra?” Let's address some of the health claims out there.  

Claim:
Wearing a bra, especially an underwire bra, can cause or increase my chance of developing breast cancer.

Fact:
According to the American Cancer Society, there are no scientifically valid studies that show wearing bras of any type cause breast cancer.

Claims:
Wearing a bra will prevent my breast from becoming saggy—OR—wearing a bra long-term will make my breasts saggy.

Fact:
Breasts are made up of tissue, glands, ducts and ligaments. Within that, fat makes up most of your breasts' tissue. Your pectoral muscles are behind the tissues, but there are no muscles in your breasts. With that said, it is totally normal and natural for your breasts to become saggier as you age, or as a result of major changes in your body like pregnancy, breastfeeding and major weight loss or gain.

A French study, conducted over 15 years, reported that wearing a bra results in accelerated sagginess because it prohibits breast tissue growth; however, the study has too many variables to be taken as scientific proof.

There is also no solid evidence that a bra will prevent sagginess either. Changes in our bodies are a natural occurrence, and the best way to prevent sagginess is by taking care of that area of your body. Maintain proper posture and do exercises focusing on your shoulders, upper back and pectoral muscle areas.   

Claims:
Bras create back pain—OR—bras can prevent back pain.

Fact:
As they are designed to do, bras support and shape our breast tissue, and that can provide comfort. Just like any piece of clothing, an ill-fitting bra can cause discomfort or pain in your shoulders and back. So, yes, a bra could cause back pain; however, a poorly-fitted bra could also be adding to already existing back pain from poor posture, obesity or injury. The best way to prevent back pain is with proper posture, exercise and maintaining a healthy weight.

So, should you take a break from your bra? There's no scientific proof that you need to take a break from your bra, but there’s also no scientific reason that you need to wear one either. It really is about the societal norm. Even so, I don't expect many to feel comfortable not wearing a bra. The key connections I make for wearing a bra and breast health are to make sure:

  • your bra fits well
  • your bra is made of a breathable fabric
  • you wash your bra regularly
  • you rotate bras to extend their wear

WHAT YOU CAN DO

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