#NoBraDay, Breast Cancer And Challenging The “Experts”

No Bra Day GettyImages-143005886

Photo from Getty Images

Ladies (and…guys), it’s No Bra Day.  Yes, that’s right, a whole day dedicated to ditching the harness/corset/Japanese slingshot and letting the girls do their thing.  The whole reason for having such a day of freedom is part of October’s breast cancer awareness month propaganda push.  (Seriously, at this point, if you aren’t aware of breast cancer and the industry built around it, you’ve been living under a rock for at least 35 years.)

The people of the breast cancer industry (American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen Foundation, Avon, WebMD, etc.) will tell all and sundry that taking off a bra for the day will do nothing for or about breast cancer.  After all, on their websites, the idea that bra wearing CAUSES breast cancer, at least some of the cancer types, is shouted down as a myth.  There are claims that there is no scientific peer reviewed evidence that this is the case, and that the entire idea came from a single book titled Dressed to Kill (1995) which was not a medical study.

Yeah, yeah.  Breast cancer is just like a lot of other tear jerker subjects around which a certain orthodoxy has been built and any challenge to that just must be destroyed.  The truth of the matter is that Dressed to Kill was the largest study, but there have been at least four others from Harvard (1991), France, Spain, and China that came to the same conclusion.  Women who wear bras for long hours have a higher incidence of breast cancer.  (A partial list of these studies can be found here.)

Why this is the case needs to be studied and the gatekeepers of the breast cancer message are steadfastly NOT funding much research that would tell us the mechanism behind the phenomenon that they insist isn’t happening.  When research is done that is said to refute the bra wearing theory, frequently the reporting does not include specifics on the results other than the study participants.  In one case, only post-menopausal women were used in the study which is going to throw off the results.  (Talk about purposefully skewing data.)

The theory is that a bra, being a compression garment around the torso, blocks the flow of lymph under the skin and the malicious cells collect in the breast, which is part of the drainage system.  As a theory, it makes a lot of sense.  (It would be really nice if someone could confirm or debunk it for sure studying something other than correlation, but, alas, that funding from the few billion dollars a year industry isn’t in the works.)  It would also explain the insistence by BOTH the garment industry and the breast cancer industry on telling women the importance of wearing the bra correct size.

(This is the one place where small, medium and large just doesn’t cut it.  We all need to be sized by a pro.  The woman who FINALLY got me in the right size was trained at Victoria’s Secret even if she wasn’t working there at the time, so that store does have its redeeming qualities.)

Of course, whenever a challenge to the orthodoxy of an established “non-profit” and drug mob happens, there is “controversy,” shouting down, and in the case of anything health related, the people who prefer to go natural grasp the information with both hands and hang on for dear life.  In the case of bras, though, a little history might be in order.

The modern bra as we know it was invented in France in the late 19th century, and didn’t exactly take off.  Then, in 1910,  a New York City socialite who needed more “support” (translation: perkiness) to get a dress to hang better from her shoulders took ribbon and silk scarves and a needle and VIOLA! a new undergarment was born.  After patenting the invention, she sold the design to Warners.  Both of these garments were based on corsets that were still torturing women everywhere until Coco Chanel came along in the 1920s and helped us ditch them.

For a long time bras were largely fabric only, with Warner’s going to elastic in the ’30s, but it really wasn’t until the 70’s when the band was, like, WAY too tight.  As it happens, THAT is when the incidence of breast cancer started to really rise.  (Yes, that was right after the pill was introduced, abortion was more frequent, we started seeing a lot more fake food and chemicals out there, and few women were nursing their babies.  All of this together could well be contributors.)  The wonderbra came to us via Canada in the mid-60s, so put that in the mix.

Coincidence?  Possibly.  But doesn’t bra wearing deserve to be studied right next to exposure to plastics, aluminum salts, exercise, hormones, weight, alcohol and saturated fat as a contributor?  In an honest world, one would think yes.  Unfortunately, that is not the case, and in a culture where modesty dictates a strict no wiggle and jiggle paradigm, the concept is laughed at, and even called perverted.  Especially when young girls’ bodies are “trained” from the teen years to not develop the muscle and tendon systems that give natural support.  (No, we use a bra to relieve the body of that burden, unless, like this writer, you happened to spend a good deal of those years on a pool deck in a tank suit that didn’t have a bra.)

But that doesn’t mean that women wouldn’t benefit in a number of ways from coming home from the office or being out where ever and slipping out of something that is really not comfortable.  (Except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, of course.)  Less wear would also extend the life of the garments.  And on No Bra Day, we’re talking about 24 hours.  Why not?

As for the “science” of bras causing breast cancer or not, readers of this writer know that much of the money making “science” out there is sensationalized for just that purpose.  To be generous, let’s say that the jury is out on this one (even if doctors do tell their patients with breast pain to take off the bra behind the backs of their hands and that warnings about breast compression were out as early as the 1920s).  To be on the safe side, though, all studies that indicate a link say that an average of 12 hours of wear a day is where the chances of developing disease jump.

So, am I joining #nobraday?  I work from home.  What do you think?

About the Author

Cultural Limits
A resident of Flyover Country, Cultural Limits is a rare creature in American Conservatism - committed to not just small government, Christianity and traditional social roles, but non-profits and high arts and culture. Watching politics, observing human behavior and writing are all long-time interests. In her other life, CL writes romance novels under her nom de plume, Patricia Holden (@PatriciaHoldenAuthor on Facebook), and crochets like a mad woman (designs can be found on Facebook @BohemianFlairCrochet and on Pinterest on the Bohemian Flair Crochet board). In religion, CL is Catholic; in work, the jill of all trades when it comes to fundraising software manipulation and event planning; in play, a classically trained soprano and proud citizen of Cardinal Nation, although, during hockey season, Bleeds Blue. She lives in the Mid-Mississippi River Valley with family and two cute and charming tyrants...make that toy dogs.