Did You Know Your Bra Could Cause Breast Cancer?


A girlfriend and I were recently discussing an article and we found ourselves saying, “so seriously, should we stop wearing bras?” Imagery of bra-burning feminists come to mind, along with a blog post I wrote about French women and their proclivity to go bra-less (incidentally, I remember that post stirring up quite a discussion). Even among the fashion set, the model-off-duty look is decidedly sans padded bra and Rumi Neely is always traipsing around in cloth triangle bras (doing it and doing it and doing it well). So upon reading the research that bras restrict the flow of lymphatic fluid and as a result increase a woman’s chances of getting breast cancer, it made me think “why are we still wearing these things again?”

It sounds like the greatest cause for concern is for women who wear tight bras over 12 hours a day, which I don’t do regularly (and makes me think of this). This leads me to believe that looser, cloth triangle bras à la Rumi are a healthier option. If you haven’t yet heard of the connection between bra wearing and breast cancer, here is an excerpt from the article and you can find the whole Inquisitr piece here.

From Inquisitr:

At least five research studies have shown that there IS a strong connection between breast cancer and bra wearing for many hours per day. Some scientists are calling for a boycott of Komen and the ACS, because they say this cover-up is costing lives.

The problem with bras, according to medical anthropologists Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer, is that they restrict the flow of lymphatic fluid, thereby retaining toxins in the breast that have nowhere to go. They compare it to the feet and ankle swelling that occurs on long flights, because the lymphatic fluid pools in the lower extremities and isn’t allowed to circulate.

Singer and Grismaijer, co-authors of Dressed To Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras, say that wearing a bra more than 12 hours a day dramatically increases the risk of getting breast cancer. A woman who wears a bra 24/7 is 125 times more likely to develop breast cancer than a woman who rarely or never wears a bra. Those who sleep in their bra, they found, have a 75% chance of developing breast cancer at some point in their lives.

Harvard did a study in 1991 that showed greatly increased incidence in breast cancer in those who wear bras over those who don’t.

Even limiting the wearing of tight bras can make a difference.

Women who wear a bra more than 12 hours, but not to bed, have an one in seven risk of breast cancer, but wearing it less than 12 hours reduces her risk to one in 152, while cutting it out completely carries a one in 168 risk. Midwife Lisa Goldstein recommends that women take off the bra when they get home and massage the tissue that has been compressed to get the lymphatic fluids flowing properly.

Read the full article here.

So are you convinced, are you going to go to work tomorrow without a bra on? I know that sounds extreme but don’t the numbers speak for themselves? And why do we feel so obligated to wear that particular piece of clothing anyway? I’d love to hear if reading this is going to change your behavior in any way, even if it’s just a quick tissue massage in the shower at night. I think it’s something women need to get talking about!


photo source: For Love And Lemons

Cristina V. Cleveland

Cristina V. Cleveland is a senior beauty editor based in Austin, TX. She has been exploring personal style and decor on Fuji Files since 2009. Her work as a writer and editor has appeared in publications like Refinery29, Birchbox, TradHome Magazine, To&From Magazine, Coco+Kelley, CamilleStyles and ads in Glamour, InStyle and Lucky.

SHOWHIDE Comments (5)
  1. So much of my “education” about bras were that they were the “civilized” thing to do and that growing braless sends out a certain message about you. But civilization can be wrong, and I think it is in this case. I’ve read a few things (including this study) that point toward the braless/minimal bra/undershirt-only route. Thinking of trying it out for a week to see if I can deal.

    1. Did you try it out? What do you think? I’ve been trying it to go out in but yet to do it at work. Feels strange still.

      1. Tried the undershirt approach. Only works with certain (loose) tops and I only really felt comfortable in the house (and even then with layered tops). This is gonna take time. -_-

  2. Great post!

    Interesting tidbit: the whole feminist imagery of “bra-burning” never happened. Male magazine journalists made up the bra burning event as a way to spin and obviously ridicule women who were participating in the liberation movement. That’s not to say that there hasn’t been a feminist that has burnt a bra.

    Anyway sorry for bothering you with my comment, I just think its so interesting how long and persistent that imagery has become.

    1. Awesome comment Joy, and so interesting! I’d definitely never heard that before I’m going to have to read up on it.

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Rather than pushing up-to-the-minute trends and products, Fuji Files is about discovering a lasting, personal aesthetic and the journey to feeling your personal best. 

Fuji Files was started by Cristina Cleveland, the Managing Editor of NaturallyCurly, the largest hair and beauty content platform. Her work as a writer and editor has appeared in publications like Refinery29, Teen Vogue, CamilleStyles, Blavity, Birchbox, TradHome Magazine, Coco+Kelley, and ads in Glamour, InStyle and Lucky.