Don’t Burn Your Bra—It’s Not Linked to Cancer Risk
Are you a proper bra-wearing lady, or do you prefer to let the girls roam free? Most American women choose the support of a firm foundation for a variety of reasons. Well-endowed women who run for exercise, for example, have an obvious need for enough support to prevent eye injuries.
But have you ever heard this urban legend; that wearing a bra has been linked to an increased risk of getting breast cancer? Did you believe it? Were you worried it might be true?
Worry no more. The American Association for Cancer Research evidently took this rumor seriously enough to investigate it objectively. “There have been some concerns that one of the reasons why breast cancer may be more common in developed countries compared with developing countries is differences in bra-wearing patterns,” said Lu Chen, MPH, a researcher in the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and a doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Public Health. “Given how common bra wearing is, we thought this was an important question to address.”
Chen and colleagues examined the records of nearly 1,500 postmenopausal women, some of whom had survived breast caner, and some controls who had not. All the women’s bra-wearing habits were examined, in light of their health status. Investigators looked at everything from hours worn per day, to age of first bra, to cup size, to the presence or absence of an underwire.
The bottom line should be reassuring to Victoria’s Secret—and its many male fans—and women everywhere who prefer the support and comfort of a well-fitting brassiere: “Our results did not support an association between bra wearing and increased breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women,” investigators concluded.
The alleged link between bra wearing and breast cancer is a mirage. If anything, it underscores the trouble with trying to draw conclusions about relationships among seemingly related variables.
Lu Chen, Kathleen E. Malone, and Christopher I. Li. Bra Wearing Not Associated with Breast Cancer Risk: A Population-Based Case–Control Study. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, September 2014 DOI: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-14-0414