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Killer bras?

When 100 premenopausal women went without a bra for three months they reported a small increase (7%) in days without any breast pain. Breast pain has been linked to breast cancer, which is much less common in bra-less cultures.

Medical anthropologist Sydney Singer hypothesised that tight bras might impede lymph node activity, a crucial element of the body’s immune system’s fight against cancer. Professor Robert Mansell of Cardiff’s University Hospital, and Simon Cawthorn from Bristol’s Frenchay Hospital, who led the research, agreed as well as pointing out that wearing a bra confers no medical benefit.

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In their book, Dressed to kill, Sidney and a colleague claimed to have found a significant link between bras and breast cancer. Struck by the fact that, worldwide, there is little breast cancer where bras are not worn, they questioned 4700 american women, half with breast cancer and half without.

  • 99% of the women in the cancer group had worn bras 12 or more hours a day compared to 80% in the non- cancer group
  • 18% of the cancer group wore their bras in bed compared to only 3% of the non-cancer group
  • Only 0.24% of the cancer group were not bra wearers, compared to 5% in the non-cancer group
  • Only 4% of the cancer group had breast-fed, compared to 14% of the non-cancer group

The anthropologists believe that tight bras may hinder tissue drainage through the lymph nodes in the armpits, which might keep toxins longer in constricted breast tissue.
Dressed to kill by Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaij. Avery Publishing, NY.

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(8063) Paul Kendall and Jenny Hope. Daily Mail