‘Bras do not cause breast cancer’: US study

Posted on 8 September 2014


There is no link between breast cancer and wearing a bra, according to new research.

A study produced by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle sought to identify whether wearing a bra was a risk factor in the disease. More than 14,000 Australian women are diagnosed per year with breast cancer.

The Seattle study looked at bra-use from more than 1000 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer between 2000 and 2004, Fred Hutch reports on their own site. “Our study found no evidence that wearing a bra increases a woman’s risk for breast cancer,” said Lu Chen, a researcher in the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutch.

“The risk was similar no matter how many hours per day women wore a bra, whether they wore a bra with underwire, or at what age they began wearing a bra.”

“We weren’t really surprised,” Chen said. “We knew that the biological plausibility of a link between bras and breast cancer was really weak.”

In part, the scientists were motivated to debunk a persistent belief that a causal link existed between wearing the undergarments and contracting the disease, believed to have originated nearly 20 years ago. In 1995, husband-and-wife team Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer published a book Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras, which suggested constant bra use blocks eliminations of toxins from the lymphatic system, causing breast cancer.

Their evidence of this was the prevalence of breast cancer in Western cultures, as opposed to indigenous societies where bras were uncommon.

The theory had previously been challenged by the American Cancer Society, which simultaneously took on a flawed Harvard Study that appeared to find a link between bra-wearing and breast cancer.

The Dressed to Kill authors, however, are not contrite. In an email, Sydney Ross Singer said the researchers’ conclusion “suggests a pro-bra bias” and queried the study’s focus on post-menopausal rather than pre-menopausal women.

Dr Christopher Li, a Fred Hutch epidemiologist and breast cancer expert, says the team used data from a larger study of post-menopausal breast cancer patients because most breast cancers are diagnosed in older women – and they have the longest exposure to wearing bras.

“We decided to look at this question because of the nearly complete lack of prior studies evaluating this question which is of interest to women in general given the public health importance of breast cancer.”

According to government statistics, in 2010 the risk of an Australian woman developing breast cancer before the age of 85 was 1 in 8.

View original article here and here.

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