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A new study was just announced in mainstream media declaring the bra-cancer link does not exist. The study looked into the bra wearing habits of women ages 55 and older who had all worn bras since puberty. They concluded that women should be "reassured" that bras are not causing breast cancer.
Actually, this study supports the bra-cancer link, since all the women in the cancer group were bra wearers.
In addition, the study is useless since none of the women in the study were bra-free, so it lacks a proper control for examining bra wearing impacts. No bra-free baseline.
They also did not look at bra tightness, which is a major factor in the bra-cancer link, which is about tight bras causing lymphatic constriction.
It is curious why the authors deliberately ignored the findings of a Harvard study (Eur J Cancer) which also found that PRE-menopausal women who were bra-wearers had over 100% increased incidence of breast cancer compared to bra free women. Why this study focused only on POST-menopausal women, instead of researching the positive association of pre-menopausal women, suggests a bias and agenda.
It seems there is, indeed, a hidden agenda. The main author, who is a PhD student, did not mention that The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where this study was done, receives money annually from a "Bra Dash" fundraiser, where bras are worn on the outside of clothing during a 5K race to raise funds.
It would be very ironic to criticize bras for causing cancer when they are used to raise funds for cancer research.
The fact that this poorly designed study without proper controls is used to conclude that there is no bra-cancer link also reveals a bias. The authors should have called for more research.
All this study really shows is that some women who have worn bras for 40 years or longer will get breast cancer and some will not. We already knew that. You can say the same thing about smokers and lung cancer.
Of course, as the bra-cancer link gains increasing public awareness, there are bound to be studies trying to refute it. Billions of dollars annually are at stake. There are also studies that try to refute the cigarette-cancer link. So I take all this as a good sign of progress, since it brings the topic into mainstream consciousness, and these attempts at denial are expected.
I hope research is done that is actually objective and examines women of all ages, including those who are bra free, and not just post-menopausal, bra wearing women.
STUDIES THAT SUPPORT THE BRA/CANCER LINK:
- 1991 Harvard study (CC Hsieh, D Trichopoulos (1991). Breast size, handedness and breast cancer risk. European Journal of Cancer and Clinical Oncology 27(2):131-135.). This study found that, "Premenopausal women who do not wear bras had half the risk of breast cancer compared with bra users ..."
- 1991-93 U.S. Bra and Breast Cancer Study by Singer and Grismaijer, published in Dressed To Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras (Avery/Penguin Putnam, 1995; ISCD Press, 2005). Found that bra-free women have about the same incidence of breast cancer as men. 24/7 bra wearing increases incidence over 100 times that of a bra-free woman.
- Singer and Grismaijer did a follow-up study in Fiji, published in Get It Off! (ISCD Press, 2000). Found 24 case histories of breast cancer in a culture where half the women are bra-free. The women getting breast cancer were all wearing bras. Given women with the same genetics and diet and living in the same village, the ones getting breast disease were the ones wearing bras for work.
- A 2009 Chinese study (Zhang AQ, Xia JH, Wang Q, Li WP, Xu J, Chen ZY, Yang JM (2009). [Risk factors of breast cancer in women in Guangdong and the countermeasures]. In Chinese. Nan Fang Yi Ke Da Xue Xue Bao. 2009 Jul;29(7):1451-3.) found that NOT sleeping in a bra was protective against breast cancer, lowering the risk 60%.
- 2011 a study was published, in Spanish, confirming that bras are causing breast disease and cancer. It found that underwired and push-up bras are the most harmful, but any bra that leaves red marks or indentations may cause disease.
- A Scottish study looking in the causes of increased upper outer quadrant breast cancer concluded that tight bras are a major contributing factor.