//Are Bras Dangerous to Your Health?

Are Bras Dangerous to Your Health?

As part of Breast Cancer Awareness month each year, October 13 has been designated as National No Bra Day. The idea is for women to throw off the bra to raise awareness of breast cancer. When we take a closer look at what bra wearing can do to the human body; however, we may want to extend this day of awareness to every day of the year. Research indicates that it may benefit women to toss the bra every other day of the year as well, since they have been suspect in being the underlying cause of ailments ranging from skin irritations to breast cancer.

Bras are worn to provide lift, support, and a shapely look. So, how could an article of clothing intended to accentuate beauty and comfort be considered dangerous to your health? The problem seems to rest with the underwire, the tightness, how often or length of time the bra is worn, and perhaps even the type of fabric.


 According to breastcancer.org, close to 40,000 women lose their lives to breast cancer each year, and one in eight women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime.

Can this statistic be changed for the better?

A closer look tells us that less than ten percent of breast cancer cases are linked to genetic factors. This means that 90 percent of all new cases stem from an environmental factor. In other words, something we are exposed to or something we do – a habit that we can change.

Lingerie and bra-fitting experts have discovered that other issues of an ill-fitted bra range from difficulty breathing, headaches, IBS and gastrointestinal complaints, hiatal hernias, fungal infections, or skin irritations.

The Department of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston studied pre-menopausal women and discovered that those women who did not wear bras had half the risk of developing breast cancer compared with bra users.

The Annals of Vascular Disease published a finding of Mondor’s disease stemming from wearing a tight bra. Another study conducted found that a tight bra was the cause of thoracic pain.  

The British School of Osteopathy found a connection between digestive problems and poorly fitted bras. Jon-Morton Bell claims, in an interview with The Independent,  that “all nerve roots come from the back: stomach upsets and fatigue are common by-products of bad back health. If ladies have a proper bra-fitting, back problems are often resolved.”

 Dr. John Michael Li, a neurologist at Rush University Medical Center, says that tight-fitting clothing can lead to “meralgia Paresthetica” in which a major nerve is compressed. Worse, it could lead to serious, life-threatening conditions such as, according to The Journal of Oncology Research and Treatment, even cancer.

More impressive is that the link between bras and breast cancer was about three times greater than the link between cigarette smoking and cancer. Women who wore their bras all day and slept in them had a 3 out of 4 chance of developing breast cancer, and those who wore their bras for more than 12 hours each day had a 1 out of 7 chance. While women who wore their bras less than 12 hours every day had only a 1 out of 52 risk. Women who wore bras rarely or never had a 1 out of 168 chance of developing breast cancer, which is a greater chance of being breast cancer free than a man’s odds. Additionally, a Japanese study revealed that wearing a bra lowers the cancer-fighting melatonin levels by approximately 60 percent.

Some women feel as though they cannot go without a bra, because when they do, they experience back pain due to lack of support. While there are women who have large breasts that make going without the support uncomfortable or causing back pain, choosing the right kind of bra and making sure there is a proper fit or even switching to cotton fabric may prove helpful in protection against breast cancer and other ailments with an overall benefit to your health.

A recent study uncovered a few of the main problems in wearing a bra include the association between:

  • bra wearing and lymph nodes
  • the danger of wearing an underwire bra
  • the amount of time spent wearing a bra, including sleeping in them.


Bra and Lymph Nodes

Lymph nodes help in fighting disease and eliminating toxins from the body. One potential problem with wearing a bra is the tightness that constrict lymph nodes. This problem is two-fold in that with constricted lymphatic vessels, oxygen and important nutrients are being blocked from reaching the cells while toxins begin to build up. The tightness of the undergarment cuts off the lymph nodes natural drainage process. This means that harmful chemicals or toxins, such as aluminum from antiperspirants or deodorants, remain trapped in and around the breasts.

There are many lymph nodes in the human body located near the breasts. When this area is constricted, it hinders the thin lymphatic vessels from draining, which may lead to toxic fluids building up. This buildup over time may lead to cancer.

According to Dr. Michael Schacter, MD, more than 85 percent of lymph fluid in and around the breast drains through the armpit lymph nodes or the nodes along the breast bone. When these areas are constricted, it impedes this lymphatic flow. The problem intensifies because of all of the harmful chemicals we come into contact with on a daily basis.

Flame retardant products, acrylamide, benzene, aromatic amines, benzene, halogenatic organic solvents, EtO Ethylene and propylene oxide PO, 1,3-Butadiene, Heterocyclic amines, endogenous and pharmaceutical hormones and other endocrine disrupting chemicals, non-hormonal pharmaceuticals that have hormonal activity, Perfluorooctanoic acid PFOA, MX, Nitro-PAHs, PAHs, Ochratoxin A, and styrene are just a handful of environmental toxins we are exposed to everyday that may become trapped in our lymphatic system.

With the lymphatic system blocked, it is possible to develop fluid filled sacks, known as fibrocystic cysts, that present themselves as hard lumps inside the breasts. These cysts are linked to a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Additionally, parabens have estrogenic activity in human breast cancer cells, so it makes sense that nearly all cancerous tissue samples tested contain parabens.

Among other experts, Dr. John McDougall, MD concludes that tight bras are the culprit in a rise of benign cysts and lumps. Over time, scar tissue will develop along with blocked milk ducts and may lead to fibrocystic breast disease.

In 2000, surgeons who operate on breasts conducted a study of women who complained of breast pain. They found that more than half of the pre-menopausal women found relief when they stopped wearing their tight bra. Along with the reported pain relief, thermography showed dramatic heat build-up from bra use.

A 1991 European Journal of Cancer study found that pre-menopausal women who chose to not wear bras had half the breast cancer risk than those who wore bras. In a study by Singer and Grismaijer, approximately 90 percent of women suffering from fibrocystic issues improved when they stopped wearing the bra.

Wires and Bra

The wire in an underwire bra may cause a two-fold problem: One, based on the Law of Stimulation in acupuncture, and the other caused by electromagnetic fields.

In 1975, Dr. George Goodheart, the father of Applied Kinesiology, discovered that when you tape a small metal ball directly over an acupuncture meridian point, it will continue to stimulate that point on the body for a long-term effect. He called his invention AcuAids, and they are still used to this day by doctors. With the idea that the AcuAids conduct energy like an antenna, it has been theorized that the metal wire in underwire bras may have the same effect.

Since there are two main meridian points under the breasts, this wire conductor may prove to be harmful over time. As an acupuncture point is stimulated, it increases function along the meridian associated with that point on the body. Gradually, if the stimulation continues, it will cause sedation of that point and decrease in function. According to John D. Andre, DC, ND, there are two major reflex points located just below the breasts. Below the right side, the acupuncture reflex point corresponds with the liver and gallbladder, and the left side corresponds with the stomach.

With this Law of Stimulation in play, a wire, from an underwire bra, placed over the two reflex points located beneath the breasts, would create a decline in function of the liver, gallbladder, and stomach.

Lymphatic congestion and heat under breasts can be seen in thermography pictures.

Sleeping in a Bra

It only makes sense that if the length of time you wear a bra leads to more serious health issues that those who wear their bras longer, and those who sleep in their bras, would experience more problems associated with bra wearing.

In May, 1991, Syd and Soma Singer conducted a study of 4,000 women of whom almost half had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Of these women, three out of four wore their bras to bed for overnight sleeping and one in seven wore their bras for an extended amount of hours throughout the day, more than 12 hours a day. This study went on to discover that only one in 168 women who did not wear a bra contracted the disease, which is better than the one in 100 odds for men contracting breast cancer.


If something as simple as foregoing bra wearing, or merely taking extra steps to making sure the bra you wear is a proper fit and does not contain a metal underwire, will increase your chances of never developing breast cancer or even simply staying healthy longer, why not try it!



American Cancer Society – Breast Cancer in Men – https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer-in-men/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html

American Cancer Society – Breast Cancer Rates in Women – https://www.cancer.org/research/cancer-facts-statistics/breast-cancer-facts-figures.html

European Journal of Cancer, 1991 and the Department of Epidemiology Harvard – Hsie CC, Trichopoulos D.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?orig_db=PubMed&cmd=Search&TransSchema=title&term=European+journal+of+cancer%5BJour%5D+AND+1991%5Bpdat%5D+AND+Breast+size

Annals of Vascular Disease, Mondor’s Disease from tight bra – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4072864/

Chiropractic and Osteopathy, thoracic pain from bra – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2275741/

Melatonin study, Nara Women’s University, Japan , “The effects of skin pressure by clothing on circadian rhythms of core temperature and salivary melatonin.” Lee YA, Hyun KJ, Tokura H – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11128295

British Documentary Revealing Breast Pain With Wearing a Bra – http://www.007b.com/bras_bare_facts.php

Dr. Mercola – Tips for Preventing Cancer – https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/06/02/breast-cancer-prevention-strategies.aspx

Academia.org, Sydney Ross Singer, Soma Grismaijer, Dressed to Kill, 1995 – http://www.academia.edu/36287546/HOW_BRAS_CAUSE_LYMPH_STASIS_AND_BREAST_CANCER

Journal of Oncology Research and Treatment – https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/wearing-a-tight-bra-for-many-hours-a-day-is-associated-with-increasedrisk-of-breast-cancer-aot-1000105.php?aid=72034

Int J Cancer. 2001 Jul 20;95(4):260-5, Women affected by gross cystic disease of the breast have an increased risk of breast cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11400120