Bras Necessity or Health Hazards?
Ever since I became a mum I have found that I ask a lot of “Why” in trying to ensure that our children today are being cared for properly and we don’t end up exposing them to unnecessary dangers as a result of the all the conveniences (or imagined necessities) we have today.
All the talk of toxins, exposure to radiation from cell phones and microwaves, dangers of the coatings used in non-stick pots! It is enough to turn one into a constantly anxious mama with no options of going back to living in the stone ages…
My recent question has been on “wearing bras and when should our daughters be introduced to wearing bras? When does a girl have to start wearing a bra? Is there an acceptable age? Is it necessary? I never thought I would stumble on a world of information that suggests that wearing a bra can actually be dangerous!! Research suggests that the longer one wears a bra…both by the number of hours a day, to the number of years…may have a direct relationship to health conditions including an increased chance of breast cancer.
If we think about it, the biggest reasons we put our daughters in bras is largely cosmetic…there are really no “medical” reasons for wearing bras. We wear bras so that our breasts look “less in your face”, young girls can be sensitive and embarrassed with their little budding breasts poking out of their tee shirts, they can complain about discomfort when exercising and playing sports. Bras are good to keep breasts supported and a bra can make a girl feel less exposed.
Oprah has been noted as saying that majority of women are wearing the wrong bra size and we see telltale signs of that around both obviously through clothes and more when you take off your clothes. Bulges under clothes at the back, parts of the bra cutting into your skin, marks around your torso or your shoulders when you take off your bra are all signs of an ill-fitting bra. Make sure you are wearing the correct bra size and encourage your daughter to start off on the right foot, let them get used to the idea of wearing the right bra size. Confirm the right bra size by being fit properly by going to a bra fitting expert at a store or by using some general bra measurement guidelines. Note that bra size will change throughout your life, due to different stages of puberty, pregnancy and breastfeeding, weight gain or loss, menopause, it is advisable to confirm your bra size at least once or twice a year.
There are two parts to a bra’s size: the chest size (also called the band size) and the cup size. The chest or band size is represented by a number (30, 32, 34, 36 and so on.) and is the part of the bra that runs across a girl’s chest and around her back. The cups are the parts of the bra that hold the breasts and come in letter sizes (AA, A, B, C, D an up). It is important to get both the chest and cup sizes right to ensure a proper fit.
Steps to measuring your correct bra size (you can click here for an online bra size calculator).
- Run a tape measure just under your breasts, all the way around your back and rib cage. The tape measure should rest flat on your skin and lie straight across your back — not so tight that it digs in, but not so loose that it sags down in back.
- Make a note of your measurement and add 5 inches. That’s your chest size.
- To measure cup size, take the tape measure around your body across the fullest part of your breasts.
- Write down this number and subtract your chest measurement from it. The difference between the numbers is a way of figuring out your cup size. If the difference between the two numbers is 1 inch, your cup size is A; 2 inches, you’re a B; 3 inches you’re a C, and so on. For instance, if your cup measurement was 33 and your chest measurement was 32, that’s a 1-inch difference. Your bra size is 32A.
- If your chest measurement comes out as an odd number (such as 31 inches or 33 inches), it’s usually a good rule to round up to the next number. Most bras have a few sets of adjustable hooks and eyes, so you can adjust the tightness.
Many young girls should the journey of wearing a bra should start with sports bras, soft-cup bra or a “training bra” but it is advisable to delay the commencement of wearing bras and when you do to reduce the amount of time spent wearing a bra.
Health Concerns of Bra wearing
Bra-wearing has been linked to breast cancer in a study done by Sidney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer. They found that the more hours per day that a bra is worn, the higher the rate of breast cancer and that women who do not wear bras have a dramatically reduced rate of breast cancer. Singer and Grismaijer have a website at: http://www.selfstudycenter.org/.
They suggest that bras exert enough pressure to the breast and surrounding areas to inhibit the flow of lymph, which then causes toxins and other waste material to remain in the breasts instead of being flushed out. The main reason why tight bras are bad for breast health is because they restrict the lymph flow in your breasts. There are numerous lymph pathways and lymph nodes in the armpits, under the breasts, and in between the breasts.
Normally the lymph fluid washes out waste materials and other toxins away from the breasts, but bras (and especially push-up bras) inhibit this action, so toxins can start to accumulate in the breast, and that can help cancer to develop. In other words, bras inhibit the way our bodies normally cleanse themselves and get rid of cancer cells and toxins like PCBs, DDT, dioxin, benzene and other carcinogenic chemicals that cling to the body’s fatty tissues like breast.
Research from the study by Singer and Grismaijer published in their book called Dressed to Kill found that
- 3 out of 4 women who wore their bras 24 hours per day developed breast cancer.
- 1 out of 7 women who wore bras more than 12 hour per day but not to bed developed breast cancer.
- 1 out of 152 women who wore their bras less than 12 hours per day got breast cancer.
- 1 out of 168 women who wore bras rarely or never acquired breast cancer.
Ladies, next time you take your bra off, look at yourself in the mirror. You might see red lines on the sides and/or underneath your breasts, and marks on your shoulders from the straps. This is not a good sign, the lymph flow might have been been cut off.
Researchers at Harvard University published a medical journal article on breast cancer risk. As a side issue of their paper, they mention that the women in their study that did not wear bras had a 60% lower rate of breast cancer than the women who wore bras. Also interestingly around 1930 a paper was published making a connection between corsets and increased breast cancer rates.
Some Suggestions for (Safer) Bra Usage
- Try to go bra-less every day for a minimum of 12 months a day
- Delay the introduction of your daughter to wearing a bra (the earlier she starts the earlier the exposure to the health concerns)
- Women that do not wear a bra daily have ligaments that became stronger through use, providing more natural lift.
- Try some alternative ways, like wearing camisoles to create the same silhouette as wearing a bra under clothes.
- Avoid wearing bras with underwires, and during your menstural period, switch to a bra of a larger size ans not only do your breasts swell up during the period, they also produce more toxins.
- Make sure you are wearing the right size of bras…a good tip is you should not feel your bra on you while wearing it!
“Now And Then, Go Braless – Allowing yourself to go braless occasionally, whether at home or in a situation you feel is appropriate, is a healthful habit. Ligaments attach your breasts to the pectoral muscle on your chest. When you wear a bra, your supported breast does not allow the pectoral muscle to be exercised as much as it could be. When you do not wear a bra, as you move your arms, reach, and lift, your pectoral muscle is strengthened. The muscle can then offer better support to your breasts. http://www.breastnotes.com/aware/aware-bra.htmpictures courtsey glamorousamorous.com and clutchmagonline.com sources include: 007, kidshealth