Facebook Pixel

No, Your Bra Won’t Give You Cancer According to Study

Rate This
No, Your Bra Won’t Give You Cancer, Says Study PS Productions/PhotoSpin

The potential link between wearing a bra and developing breast cancer has long been the subject of chain emails, water cooler chats and whispered rumors.

While most women relish the thought of flinging their brassiere at the end of the day, few of us consider doing it on a permanent basis. But is there any truth that our bra, particularly underwire models, can give us cancer?

No, say the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen and Breastcancer.org, who all agree that there are no scientifically valid studies that show wearing bras of any type causes breast cancer.

The theory-turned-internet meme first gained mainstream traction in 2005 when a husband and wife team of medical anthropologists published it in the book “Dressed to Kill.”

Their study suggested that breast cancer might be less common among women who do not wear bras than among bra wearers.

Although several studies have debunked the bra-breast cancer theory, the myth seems to have gained a foothold in the female psyche. So Lu Chen, MPH, decided to test the theory.

Chen is a researcher in the Public Health and Sciences Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and a doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Public Health.

“One of the reasons why breast cancer may be more common in developed countries compared with developing countries is differences in bra-wearing patterns,” she said in a press release.

“Given how common bra wearing is, we thought this was an important question to address.”

Chen enlisted nearly 1,100 postmenopausal women with invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) and invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC), the two most common subtypes of breast cancer from the Seattle-Puget Sound metropolitan area. She enlisted 469 women who did not have breast cancer to serve as controls.

Chen and colleagues interviewed the women on their demographics, family history, and reproductive history, all known to be possible breast cancer risk factors.

Researchers also asked each women a series of structured questions to assess her lifetime bra-wearing patterns including whether she wore a bra with an underwire, what her bra cup size and band size was, the number of hours per day and days per week she wore a bra, and whether her bra-wearing patterns had changed at different times in her life.

“Our study found no evidence that wearing a bra increases a woman’s risk for IDC or ILC breast cancer" said Chen. "The risk was similar no matter how many hours per day women wore a bra, whether they wore a bra with an underwire, or at what age they first began wearing a bra."

Some experts have hypothesized that drainage of lymph fluids in and around the breast may be hampered by wearing a bra.

However, Chen said given very limited biological evidence supporting such a link between wearing a bra and the risk for breast cancer, “our results were not surprising.”

The study is published Sept. 5, 2014 in the Journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. It was funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Lynette Summerill is an award-winning writer living in San Jose, CA. When not writing for publications, she spends a questionable amount of her free time contemplating her relationship with mid-century modern design and watersports.


Bra Wearing Not Associated with Breast Cancer Risk: A Population-Based Case–Control Study. Lu Chen,Kathleen E. Malone, and Christopher I. Li
Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; Published OnlineFirst September 5, 2014; doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-14-0414.abstract

Bras and Breast Cancer. American Cancer Society. Accessed 4 Sept. 2014.

Breast Cancer Risk Factors. Breastcancer.org Accessed 4 Sept. 2014.

Factors that do not increase risk. Susan G. Komen. Accessed 4 Sept. 2014.

Research Finds No Association Between Wearing a Bra and Breast Cancer. AACR. Jeremy Moore.

Reviewed September 5, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

This post is worthy of appreciation, looking forward to more exciting!

October 21, 2014 - 11:22pm

I am a breast cancer researcher and medical anthropologist, co-author of, Dressed To Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras.

Actually, this Hutchinson study supports the bra-cancer link, since all the women in the cancer group were lifetime bra wearers.

In addition, the study is useless since none of the women were bra-free, so it lacks a proper control for examining bra wearing impacts. No bra-free baseline.

They also did not look at bra tightness, which is a major factor in the bra-cancer link, which is about tight bras causing lymphatic constriction.

All this study really shows is that some women who have worn bras for 40 years or longer will get breast cancer and some will not. We already knew that. You can say the same thing about smokers and lung cancer.

It also shows that, despite 20 years of ignoring and suppressing this information, the cancer industry has had to finally deal with this issue and do a study. It's really no surprise that the study was biased, and was announced as the last word on this issue.

How could they admit that hundreds of thousands of women have suffered from breast cancer needlessly, because of their stonewalling and denial of the link between bras and breast cancer?

There is also direct evidence of a hidden agenda. The study said there were no reported conflicts of interest, but did not mention that The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center receives money annually from a “Bra Dash” fundraiser, where pink bras are worn on the outside of clothing during a 5K race to raise breast cancer research funds.

Conclusion: The only research you can trust is on yourself!

I suggest women who want to know if their bras have been harming their breasts should take the No Bra Challenge, and stop constricting your breasts with a bra for 30 days.

Most women report feeling reduced breast pain and cysts by this simple lifestyle change. If this is the case for you, it is tangible proof that your bra has been harming your breasts.

If your breasts are physically uncomfortable without a bra, then your breasts are already having bra-caused problems.

You can go to our website for more and to sign up for a Self Study. http://www.killerculture.com/self-study-center/

Studies that Support the Bra/Cancer Link

1991 Harvard study (CC Hsieh, D Trichopoulos (1991). Breast size, handedness and breast cancer risk. European Journal of Cancer and Clinical Oncology 27(2):131-135.). This study found that, “Premenopausal women who do not wear bras had half the risk of breast cancer compared with bra users…”

1991-93 U.S. Bra and Breast Cancer Study by Singer and Grismaijer, published in Dressed To Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras (Avery/Penguin Putnam, 1995; ISCD Press, 2005). Found that bra-free women have about the same incidence of breast cancer as men. 24/7 bra wearing increases incidence over 100 times that of a bra-free woman.

Singer and Grismaijer did a follow-up study in Fiji, published in Get It Off!(ISCD Press, 2000). Found 24 case histories of breast cancer in a culture where half the women are bra-free. The women getting breast cancer were all wearing bras. Given women with the same genetics and diet and living in the same village, the ones getting breast disease were the ones wearing bras for work.

A 2009 Chinese study (Zhang AQ, Xia JH, Wang Q, Li WP, Xu J, Chen ZY, Yang JM (2009). [Risk factors of breast cancer in women in Guangdong and the countermeasures]. In Chinese. Nan Fang Yi Ke Da Xue Xue Bao. 2009 Jul;29(7):1451-3.) found that NOT sleeping in a bra was protective against breast cancer, lowering the risk 60%.

2011 a study was published, in Spanish, confirming that bras are causing breast disease and cancer. http://www.portalesmedicos.com/publicaciones/articles/3691/1/Patologias-mamarias-generadas-por-el-uso-sostenido-y-seleccion-incorrecta-del-brassier-en-pacientes-que-acuden-a-la-consulta-de-mastologia- It found that underwired and push-up bras are the most harmful, but any bra that leaves red marks or indentations may cause disease.

A 2014 Scottish study looking in the causes of increased upper outer quadrant breast cancer concluded that tight bras are a major contributing factor. http://www.scotsman.com/news/health/bras-linked-to-rise-in-breast-cancer-1-3422526

For more, see my website www.KillerCulture.com.

September 15, 2014 - 5:43pm
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Breast Cancer

Get Email Updates

Related Checklists

Breast Cancer Guide


Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!