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Droop Phobia, the Bra, and Breast Cancer
By Sydney Ross Singer

News has spread around the globe recently about bras causing breasts to droop.

The French researcher doing this 15 year study, Prof. J.D. Rouillon, found that the breasts toned and lifted after the bra was eliminated, and even stretch marks disappeared. Back pain also ended. The conclusion was that bras cause breast damage, and women would be better off without them (even the brassier industry admits that the only time bras prevent sagging is while wearing them).

We have been saying for the past 20 years that bras cause breasts to droop more than they would if the bra wasn't worn. The mechanism is easy to understand. When part of the body is artificially supported, the body becomes reliant on that support. Artificial support from bras causes atrophy of the natural suspensory ligaments of the breast. Use it or lose it.

Corsets and girdles did the same thing to abdominal muscles. Internal structures weaken when the body is supported from the outside.

This information is not really news to the lingerie industry. In the UK documentary, “Bras—The Bare Facts”, released in 2000 on the Channel 4 program called Dispatches, for which I was also interviewed, John Dixey, former CEO of bra-maker Playtex, explained, “We have no evidence that wearing a bra could prevent sagging, because the breast itself is not muscle, so keeping it toned up is an impossibility…. There’s no permanent effect on the breast from wearing a particular bra. The bra will give you the shape the bra’s been designed to give while you’re wearing it.

Of course, bras are sold with the misinformation that wearing them will prevent breasts from drooping. And women fear droop more than almost anything else, making this a successful, if incorrect, sales piece. In fact, women have also been told that they need to sleep in their bras to prevent droop. Wearing bras 24/7 has become commonplace. Of course, so has breast cancer.

Our 1991-93 Bra and Breast Cancer Study of nearly 5,000 women, which is detailed in our book, Dressed To Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras, found that the longer and tighter a woman wore a bra, the higher her chances of developing breast cancer. 24/7 bra wearers have the highest incidence of breast cancer of any group, over 125 times that of a bra-free woman. Bra-free women also happen to have about the same low breast cancer incidence as men. On the other hand, three fourths of 24/7 bra wearers developed breast cancer.

Our research has been recently verified by a Venezuelan medical team. In 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.

This is the third study in addition to our own, that supports the bra/cancer link. No study refutes the link.

The other two include a 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…”

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%.

Meanwhile, the cancer detection and treatment industry still wants to ignore the link and have women come for more mammograms or, better yet, for a prophylactic mastectomy, removing the breasts to prevent breast cancer. (It’s amazing they are able to dupe women and pull that off!)


From the Susan G. Komen for the Cure website:

"Scientific evidence does not support a link between wearing an underwire bra (or any type of bra) and an increased risk of breast cancer. There is no biological reason the two would be linked, and any observed relationship is likely due to other factors."


It will be interesting this year during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness hype to see how many websites still call the bra/cancer link a “myth”. I hope all readers of this newsletter will challenge these websites when they see this misinformation. At least leave a comment.

On a personal note, I must admit it feels good seeing researchers around the world looking into the harm caused by bras. Breast cancer is preventable, if we can get past the cultural obsession with needing artificially shaped breasts.

What’s surprising is that many women fear droop even more than cancer. Aesthetics trumps health in a culture whereashamed of their bodies looks are everything and books are judged by their cover.

And women do feel they are being judged for their appearance. In our culture, women are often treated as objects, especially their breasts.

So this news about bras causing breasts to droop is a powerful motivator to get rid of the bra. Women will ditch the bra to look better, and will be preventing breast cancer at the same time as a positive side effect.

One last note. Some of the news coverage of the French study and the online comments were very revealing. It was suggested that a man studying breasts for 15 years must somehow be a sexual pervert, and that the study was therefore “creepy”.

The fact is, discussing breasts and bras brings out the adolescent in many people. And medical researchers are no exception.

For example, years back I was contacted by a man who was a retired cancer researcher at NIH who thought highly of our bra/cancer theory. While still at NIH, he tried talking about the theory with a female colleague. She took immediate offense and accused him of harboring some sexual issues. It seems that a man, regardless of his intentions, is suspected of perversion by merely mentioning the bra/cancer link.

This is another aspect of the culturogenic nature of breast cancer. Our culture is so messed up about breasts and bras that we cannot talk about this issue in serious terms without someone sneering or getting uncomfortable. The subject is taboo. The only ones allowed to talk about bras and breasts are lingerie sales people, who tell women bras are essential to prevent droop, and that the link between bras and cancer is a “myth”.

Speaking of myths, those supporting the bra often refer to National Geographic pictures of droopy, bare-breasted African women as proof that gravity will win without a bra. But don’t be duped by the African droop. These women often nurse many children, who tug on their breasts for years on end. And some tribes actually hang weights from their breasts to make them hang. Different strokes for different folks.

We must also advise women who are wanting to try bra-free that any pain you experience once you remove your bra is a sign that you have become addicted, or conditioned, to the bra. Because of the constriction, lymphatic drainage may have been impaired, resulting in fluid accumulation and heavier, soggier, and saggier breasts. Over a short time the fluid will leave and your breasts will feel less heavy and sore. Ligaments will start working again. The breasts will lift and tone.

And activities that now give you breast discomfort, like jogging or rebounding, will start to feel good over time without any breast constraint. This breast movement is important for healthy circulation and does not require the artificial support of a bra. The female breast was not designed with a flaw that requires 20th Century lingerie to correct.

It is also important to get past "droop phobia". It’s nothing but a cultural con, an artificial need created to sell a product (a profitable product). Plastic surgeons eager to stuff and cut breasts into fashionable dimensions add to the pressure to conform.

Breasts are big business. So is cancer. A major link is the bra. Now that bras have been implicated regarding droop, there may be some progress in ditching the bra and ending this breast cancer epidemic.

[Don's comment: Dairy consumption is another link to breast cancer; see the articles on milk/dairy in the Articles section. And breast tissue health can be adversely affected by insufficient iodine.]

See also Bras and Breast Cancer Connection

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