Scientists Reveal If Ditching Your Bra Actually Affects Your Health

Scientists Reveal If Ditching Your Bra Actually Affects Your Health

If you have always had a love-hate relationship with your bra, this might help you make it more of love and less hate.

Most women have a bittersweet relationship with their bras. You have been conditioned to wear it ever since your breasts started to develop. And today, you probably can’t imagine leaving the house without wearing one, but you go about your day just waiting to come back home to get that enormous satisfaction of taking it off. A lot of women in America have been ditching their bras or even burning them up. But how helpful is the ‘no-bra’ life? Is it really helping your health or was the bra made for a reason? Well, this will take you closer to the answer.

The study that challenged bra theories

Some women may benefit from throwing the dreaded bras away. In 2013, Professor Jean-Denis Rouillon, who is a sports medicine specialist from Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Besancon in Besancon, France, published his findings from a 15-year long study. "Our first results confirm the hypothesis that the bra is a false need," said Rouillon. "Medically, physiologically, anatomically, the breast does not benefit from being deprived of gravity. Instead, it languishes with a bra." The research challenges the age-old notion about women’s breasts sagging from not wearing a bra. The study actually suggests that bras might increase the chances instead.  


330 volunteering females, who were aged between 18 to 35 years, had their breasts measured at different intervals during the study. The findings suggested that bras stopped the growth of breast tissue, and this was an obstacle for muscles to support the breasts. Women who didn’t wear bras gave way for their muscles to be worked out more than other women who did wear them. The researchers found that women who didn’t wear bras had breasts that were comparatively firmer and had a 7-millimeter lift.

However, since the study involved younger women, it could be unlikely that women who are in their forties and have been wearing bras all their lives will experience the same effect. Rouillon also said, "It would be dangerous to advise all women to stop wearing their soutien-gorge (bra) as the women involved were not a representative sample of the population."


What about the bras-cause-breast-cancer theory?

A lot of the claims behind ditching bras were about the risks of breast cancer. However, the American Cancer Society lists bras under disproven or controversial risk factors that cause breast cancer. It is said that many of the rumors connecting bras and breast cancer mention the obstruction of lymph flow to be the reason behind the increased risk. But there is no credible scientific research or clinical basis that makes this claim accountable. In addition to this, a study was conducted in 2014, which brought together observations from around 1,500 women. The study was unable to find any conclusive connection between a woman wearing a bra and her risk of developing breast cancer.



There are also certain links that might connect your bra-habits with the risk of cancer. Sydney Ross Singer, who co-authored Dressed To Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras, studied roughly 4700 women in America and found some behavior that could increase your risk. About half of the women who were studied had breast cancer and were studied for their previous habits of wearing a bra. Findings showed that women who belonged to the cancer set were habitually wearing bras that were tight for them when compared to the non-cancer set of women.

In addition to this, they also wore their bras for long periods of time during the day, and some even slept with their bras on. And this was vastly different from the women who did not have cancer in the study. Singer wrote, “When the results were analyzed, they revealed that women who wear bras over 12 hours daily have a dramatically increased risk of developing breast cancer compared to bra-free women. In fact, bra-free women have about the same chances of developing breast cancer as men have, and this is over 100 times less than that for women wearing bras 18-24 hours daily.”


To really know whether you need to go bra-free, Singer suggests not wearing a bra for a month, and your body will show you the signs. While some women’s bodies have become so used to wearing a bra and their breasts have grown to be ‘reliant’ on their bras for support, Singer also talks about women who have tried going bra-free and found results. She said, “For the thousands of women who have tried this, the results are spectacular. Having bound their breasts since puberty, the feeling of breast freedom sometimes may seem strange at first. But within days, the breasts have their chance to drain of congestion and excess fluid. Tenderness ends. Menstrual breast pain may disappear altogether. Cysts vanish. It's like a miracle.”


If you do wear bras, make sure it's the right one

The important thing to ensure is that each and every single bra in your lingerie cupboard fits you right. It is said that 80 percent of women are wearing bras that are either too big for them or too small for them. It could be a helpful idea for you to take a look at your everyday routine and see how much support your breasts need during the day.

Robin Lansman, who is an osteopath and media spokesperson for the Institute of Osteopathy, spoke to Elle and said, “Like changing swimming strokes, variety is good when it comes to wearing a bra. You should monitor how you’re feeling and what activities you’re doing that may require structural support more so than others. The key to wearing or not wearing a bra comes down to encouraging the body to learn how to work, not just bracing it tightly for a quick fix solution to back pain and postural problems.”