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Does Wearing a Bra Cause Breast Cancer?

Robyn Openshaw, MSW - Feb 07, 2012 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

You may be aware that mammograms cause cancer. Did you know that bras do? Medical anthropologist Sidney Singer studied women in Fiji in 1997. Diet and lifestyle were the same with the compared groups. Those who wore bras had the same rate of breast cancer as American women. Those who didn’t wear bras had no breast cancer at all!

I know what you’re thinking. National Geographic, women who’ve never worn a bra in their life.  We’ve all seen the photos.   That isn’t going to fly here in North America.  I hear you, sister.

Good or bad, right or wrong, our culture hyper-sexualizes breasts—they aren’t just functional, for feeding babies.   We place a premium on them looking pretty and perky – every woman I know who sags at all either has a complex about it, or has had that surgically repaired.

But get this, from Singer’s research:

  1. Women wearing a bra 24 hours a day had a 3 in 4 chance of developing breast cancer.
  2. Women wearing their bras 12 hours a day, but not to bed, had a 1 in 7 chance of developing breast cancer.
  3. Women wearing bras less than 12 hours a day had a 1 in 152 chance of developing breast cancer.

(And of course, as I mentioned, those who rarely or never wore a bra virtually never got breast cancer.)

So, wear your bra less!

Why does support lead to cancer? One theory is that restraining your breasts increases the hormone prolactin, which decreases breast tissue circulation. That impedes your body’s natural removal of fluids trapped in the lymph nodes and glands. And those glands make up the largest lymph mass in the upper body. Bras keep your drainage system from functioning and creates that swamp-like condition I speak about in my lectures constantly. It’s a perfect breeding ground for cancer, infections, and other problems.

The correlation between breast cancer and wearing a bras is four times greater than the correlation between lung cancer and smoking!

So why have you   never heard this before?

Well, who would benefit from this information financially? No one.

Wear your bra less. Definitely do not wear it to bed. Apparently push-up bras are the worst.

Posted in: Health Concerns, Lifestyle, Preventive Care

52 thoughts on “Does Wearing a Bra Cause Breast Cancer?”

Leave a Comment
  1. Anonymous says:

    What about wearing Cami’s that have some support? Are those just as dangerous?

  2. Anonymous says:

    on the opposite end of the scope: I don’t “need” a bra, I completely wear one for aesthetic purposes…to maintain illusions! How sad that I could be expose myself to a cancer risk because of the “hypersexualization of breasts.” I am so small, I feel like a zero on the feminine scale if I don’t wear a padded push up underwire. And I am not an insecure teen…an insecure mom in my thirties!! I am going to try your coconut oil underarm, maybe I need to wear a coconut bra too? ha ha I wish I had the courage to just go in cami’s…flat and proud. It really is tragic how many of our unhealthy habits are to promote a facade of beauty.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Someone I know never wears bras, but did get breast cancer.

    1. Robyn Openshaw, MSW says:

      Jj, yes, there are lots of OTHER risk factors for breast cancer.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Robyn, this is very interesting information. I have very large breasts and have been wearing a sports bra because of my health concerns with normal type bras. I am right now on day 4 of a 92 day juice Feast and doing great. I have been 95% raw for 90 days thanks to green smoothies. I believe wearing bras is a cancer risk. Wearing a bra with S.A.D. eaters is a far greater risk.

  5. Anonymous says:

    As always nice when you are able to share this “To Your Health” tips (I always pass along) with so many that don’t know what they have been doing on automatic pilot just isn’t health promoting.
    Perhaps it is time for bra manufacturers to take a bit of health responsibility seriously?
    Women seamstresses Help with this one for a new company line…perhaps..

    Keep up the good health promotion work Robyn!
    In Health & Healing,

  6. Anonymous says:

    Robyn and AB, it so happens that I am a registered mammographer and have been for many years. I understand your concerns about radiation, but I ‘m curious where you get your “facts” from, and I suspect you may be taking some information out of context……… you might want to check out the following article before you go spouting off any more false information to other women who read these blogs….what it basically says is that yes, HIGH DOSES of radiation exposure can cause cancer ( in specific high risk groups), but that is not the case for mammograms, which are VERY LOW DOSE, and due to the new digital technology, are now less painful, requiring less compression. Also, mammograms are the only exam that can pick up tiny calcifications that are the first sign of malignancy, as opposed to thermography and ultrasound, which may have their own merits, but are not the first choice for early detection of breast cancer. I wish you continued good health…………………going to make a smoothie now.

  7. Robyn, I so enjoy your posts–thank you for being so passionate. I have learned a lot from you over the last few years and am proud to say I am a DAILY green smoothie girl, can’t live without them. I go to a naturopathic gynecologist and she told me that there has been no significant decrease in breast cancer since introducing mammograms and there are much better options. I am small breasted and HATE mammos. I am 54 (almost 55), it does not run in my family (which–I wonder about how telling somebody that works on their psyche..?), I work from home so only wear a bra when I leave the house, NEVER have worn one to bed (eeeek, how uncomfortable). I think it’s extremely important that we all become active and responsible participants in our health. Take the time to do the research, get different opinions, pray and/or fast about then go with what your spirit is telling you.

  8. I have never heard of men needing to support their genitals so

    I wonder and wonder and wonder again why women have thought

    they should support their breasts. ?????

  9. very true

    Unfortunately everybody has got this understanding one way or another, but the pro-bra campaign is so overwhelming that a common woman now generally do not even think of being san-bra.

  10. Anonymous says:


    Is there a particular type or brand or bra that you recommend for when we do wear them???

  11. Anonymous says:

    I’m sorry but this is ridiculous. Personally I don’t believe that wearing a bra will cause cancer. If you shower everyday, and have your bra off for maybe an hour, all of your lymphs should drain( especially if you massage) then it seems like you should be fine. There are a lot of issues with not wearing a bra. For example, if your large in the chest it can cause back injuries and very sad looking boobs. Honestly, I can get people not wanting to sleep in a bra, but not wearing them during the day when your seeing people, absolutely disgusting. I sleep in my bra, and maybe ill start loosening it, but not wearing a bra ever…. Awful. It’s common etiquette to look somewhat decent while others are around. I get not wanting cancer but geez have some self respect and respect for other… No one wants to see that.

  12. Valerie says:

    I’m 49 and have never worn a bra (not even to run). (I do try to wear looser clothing in public so the “halogen headlights” are less obvious.) Granted I have never had kids, and am not of ample bosom-age, but my boobs have yet to sag. A few good things about not wearing a bra:
    – saves tons of money – bras are expensive!
    – less laundry.
    – my breasts don’t get sore when I have my period (may or may not be related).
    – after a couple of days of backpacking, I’m not complaining about how sore my chest is like the other girls.
    A great resource for breast health is Susun Weed’s “Breast Cancer? Breast Health!”.
    And huge apologies to those who are repulsed by my lack of a brassiere. Please feel free to avert your eyes from such a horrific sight. 🙂

  13. OMG- I just took my bra off 🙂 Good to know.

  14. Rene' says:

    I thought it would be most appropriate to let everyone here also know about the tremendous breast cancer risk reduction to both mother and baby from simply breastfeeding. There are many amazing studies (peer-viewed and all) that prove it. Formula has only been around for about 100 years. And another bit of information while on the subject is that pregnancy contributes to breast changes whether you breastfeed or not, so definitley breastfeed and lower breast cancer rates!! (Then keep your comfy loose-fitting nursing bras for when you absolutely have to wear one) 🙂 Rene’

  15. Marissa says:

    Emma, then don’t come to my house. I place a much higher value on comfort and health than what anyone else thinks. And for the record, the only people who might not want to “look at that” are other women. Men love it when women free-boob it.

  16. Alex says:

    Does it matter if your breasts are small? If cancer cells stick to fat tissue, does it matter how much you have to increase the risk? My breast are 34 AA and I only wear one to avoid nipping.

  17. Sandra Sweitzer says:

    Hey! Nylon bras are PLASTIC. Nylon is plastic! How can plastic (estrogen effect) be healthy, rubbing against your breasts 14 hours a day? 7/365. All sorts of plastics are cancer causers. Why not a plastic bra (nylon) as a cancer causer?

    Bras used to be cotton. Some still are.

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