This is the first in what I hope to make a series of frequently asked questions about breast cancer. If you have a question, please send it to me by clicking on "Post Your Comment" at the end of this post, and I will attempt to answer it. If I don't know, I will try to find out for you.
Question from Twitter: Someone told me recently that wearing a bra when I go to bed at night could cause breast cancer. Is this true?
Answer: There is what appears to be an Internet legend doing the rounds, that a bra causes breast cancer, especially if worn at night. If it was only that simple. Ban the Bra! And no more breast cancer.
Breast cancer is an ancient disease, and before modern medicine and surgical abilities almost always proved fatal. The bra, as we know it, only started in 1913, when Flary Phelps Jacob fastened two silk hankies together with pink ribbon. Prior to that, in 1863, Lummen L Chapman added cups to the commonly used corset, and in 1893, Marie Tucek brought out a "breast supporter". Unfortunately, breast cancer has been around for many more years than the bra.
There have been a number of surveys done, some of which appear to show an element of weight to the idea that bras are not a good idea. However other factors need to be considered, such as weight, exercise, diet, menstrual dates, pregnancy, breastfeeding, etc. For heavily-built women, going without a bra is an uncomfortable and often unsightly choice.
One argument in favour of doing away with the bra is that it constricts the lymphatic system. However, the lymph system drains out of the breast, into the underarm lymph nodes, and not into the breast as these reports appear to indicate.
Dr. Susan Love, in her book, "The Breast Book", says that people want to believe myths of this nature, because they want to blame something external within their control. She says, "You find people less wanting to think about birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy and fertility drugs,” she says, "and more about pesticides, bras and deodorant.” We want to feel in control over our health, and cancer spoils the fantasy.
BreastCancer.org states, "No, you cannot get breast cancer from these things. What you wear and how your breasts are touched do not affect your risk of breast cancer."
Final note: Anything constrictive, such as a bra, may well spoil your chances of a good night's sleep, so why wear one at that time? If, however, you find it increases your comfort, possibly due to your breast size, wear one designed for comfort. Most experts seem to agree, a bra won't give you cancer--but it might disturb your sleep. And that may influence your health in a negative way.
What about you? Do you think it's a good idea to wear a bra 24/7? Click on Post Your Comment below, and give us your opinion.
Please note that this is not in any way a medical article. If you are worried further, consult your medical professional, or do your own research. If you're uncomfortable about sleeping in a bra, don't. If you are uneasy every time you put one on, you may choose to join the bra-less society. In the end, it's your decision.