Since it is Breast Cancer Prevention month here at The Verbal Herbal, I thought I’d talk about bras. I was never a big fan of wearing a bra. I find them uncomfortable and stiff. If I go to work I’ll wear a sports bra because they are a little more comfortable, but as soon as I get home that thing comes off. I’ve been called out a few times about not wearing a bra, and after some research, I can now say “by not wearing a bra, I’m reducing my chances for breast cancer.”
Breast Movement and the Lymphatic system
We have evolved with subtle breast movement (or not so subtle, depending on how big your boob as) when we walked or ran. This subtle movement gently massages the breast tissue, increasing lymphatic flow and removing waste and toxins from the breast tissue.
Why Wearing a bra can increase your chances of getting breast cancer
First and foremost, I’d like to make it clear that women wear bras for cosmetic purposes not for medical purposes. With that said, bras are very constricting. They close of the breast to circulation, hindering the immune system, slowing lymphatic drainage and trapping energy and toxins in the breast.
The effect that wearing a bra has on the lymphatic system is astounding and I think it is also something that most women are unaware of. Wearing a bra, especially and underwire bra and/or to bed, closes off the lymphatic pathway from the breasts to the nodes, decreasing lymphatic drainage. This lack of lymphatic flow leads to accumulation of toxins in the breast tissue and can cause anoxia (low oxygen content) in the tissue. This is related to fibrosis of the breasts (fluid buildup and cyst formation) which leads to an increased incidence of breast cancer.
The Link between bras and breast Cancer
I think getting women to go braless is a hard sell, but providing some statistics can help to show how much wearing a bra has an effect on you chances of getting breast cancer:
- In a study of 5,000 women, the ones that said that they got irritated, red marks from wearing a bra were 2 times more likely to get breast cancer.
- Women that rarely or never wear a bra had a 1 out of 168 chance of getting breast cancer.
- Women that wore a bra less that 12 hours a day had a 1 out of 152 chance of getting breast cancer.
- Women that wore a bra more that 12 hours a day but not to bed, had a 1 in 7 chance of getting breast cancer.
- Women that wore a bra 24 hours a day had a 3 out of 4 chance of getting breast cancer.
What you can do to better your chances
As the statistics above show, the more hours a day that you wear a bra, the more you increase your risk of getting breast cancer. Here are some suggestions to help better your chances.
- Take off your bra: Go braless as often as you can, especially at night. Many women are in jobs where they have to wear a bra for long hours and taking off your bra during work hours is not acceptable. So when you are not at work make sure to go braless. If you feel uncomfortable being out’n’about without a bra then wear a sports bra. Because they don’t have an underwire they are a little less restricting to lymphatic flow.
- Breast Massage: Rosemary Gladstar suggests doing a breast massage 5 times a week. It helps keep us connected to our bodies, assists in proper lymphatic flow and aids in early detection of breast cancer. This is how she does it:
- Apply massage oil to the breasts. When I have time, I prefer to do it in the shower with some soap. It feels more cleansing and I end up with a killer lather.
- Cup one breast in each hand and move your hands in a circular motion away from each other 28 times.
- Then move your hands in a circular motion towards each other 28 times.
- Repeat step two by moving your hands in a circular motion away from each other another 28 times.
- Do this exercise with the speed and pressure that feels comfortable to you.
I hope this post has shown how dangerous wearing a bra can be. For more information regarding this topic check out the book “Dressed to Kill: link between breast cancer and bras” by Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer. Stay tuned this month for more information regarding breast cancer prevention.
Gladstar, R. (2001). Rosemary Gladstar's family herbal: a guide to living life with energy, health, and vitality.
: Storey Books. North Adams, Mass.
Weed, S. S. (1996). Breast cancer? Breast health!: the wise woman way.
: Ash Tree Pub. Woodstock, N.Y.