To Bra or Not to Bra?
A woman's breasts are naturally designed to move, bounce, and jiggle as she moves. This is the way that evolution has crafted women's breasts over thousands and millions of years to support optimal health and human lifestyle. Bras inhibit the natural movement of the breasts, and this interferes with the way the breast is designed to optimally function.
In my popular article Viva la Boobies: 7 Things to Know About Breasts, I shared how breasts want freedom because there are health benefits to going bra-free. That article generated a powerful response, and was shared all over the world. I read hundreds of messages from women (and men), and the majority of the comments were about bras.
The responses ranged from enthusiasm from bra-free women, curiosity from women who were not sure how to go about not wearing a bra during work or exercise, to rigid skepticism that bras could negatively impact breast health, to full on horror at the idea of not strapping one's breasts in place all the time.
Think about it. Tight underwear for men decreases sperm count, tight socks can give someone a headache, a tight waistband can cause intestinal pains, and a tight elastic around the wrist can cause numbness and tingling. In the same way, a bra can cause breast discomfort and health issues through the restriction and compression of the tissues.
When a woman is not wearing a bra, her daily actions allow the breasts to move naturally, from side-to-side, up-and-down, to shimmy, and bounce. This supports the circulation of the lymph and blood. The natural movement also supports the vitality of the connective tissue and skin, supporting the perkiness of the breasts.
Many women wear bras because of fear of their breasts sagging, but the recent 15 year French study shares that women who go without a bra actually have perkier breasts, even if they have breastfed a child. Larger breasts will naturally sag over time, and that cannot be stopped by whether or not a woman wears a bra. The CEO of the bra manufacturer Playtex John Dixey, was quoted as saying. "We have no medical evidence that wearing a bra could prevent sagging, because the breast itself is not muscle so keeping it toned up is an impossibility."
However, I believe that nutrition, hydration, and exercise are also a critical part of this issue for achieving healthier and perkier breasts for longer in life. The more a woman allows natural movement of the breasts, the better. If you wear a bra, it should fit right but not too tight, and take it off when you get home.
The Amazing 3 Dimensional Breast
Oprah did a big show in 2005 called the Bra Revolution in which she brought in lingerie experts, thousands of bras, and fitted every member of her audience for a new correctly sized bra. They found that over 80% of the women were wearing the wrong sized bra.
Most women are found to wear a bra that is too wide around, which doesn't provide enough support, and too small in the cup, so the breast tissue is compressed. Improperly fitted bras are known to cause health challenges such as back and shoulder pain.
There is no standard sizing for bras, and women's breasts are all different shapes and sizes. Bra size measurements are based upon two dimensions, which does not do justice to the three-dimensionality of the breast.
Bras are designed for appearance through squishing, pushing, or forming breasts into the fashionable curve of the times. This consistently changes of course. Flapper era bras were designed to flatten the breast, some bras push up the breasts, and others shape them.
If you must wear a bra, go to a real lingerie store and get professional fitted. Then try on the bras. Your breasts change size due to various reasons, including through each menstrual cycle. Try on bras when your breasts are at their biggest, usually before your period. Also, if you've gained or lost weight, are pregnant or postpartum, had breast surgery, or had other changes recently get refitted. Avoid underwires.
For the best bet, wear a bra as little as possible, wear a soft natural fiber bra, or just go bra free.
The Newfangled Bra Invention
The bra is a recent invention. Women do not need to wear bras except for fashion purposes. The bra burst onto the breast fashion scene in the late 1800's, replacing the tight corset, which was known to damage the organs, spines, and health of women.
By the 1930's large-scale commercial production began that made the brassiere available widely to women. The bra industry is now a multi-billion dollar market dominated by large multinational corporations.
Bra wearing has becoming such a commonplace part of the Western women's lifestyle, so much that many women feel obligated to wear them for work and any time they are out in public, some women even wear them 24 hours a day.
The bra industry does not want you to think that your bra could be harmful to your health, but increasing information leads that very conclusion.
The Big Bra Cover-Up
The book "Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras" is written by two medical anthropologists Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer. This book details the authors extensive Bra and Breast Cancer (BBC) Study and the link it exposes between higher breast cancer risks with prolonged bra wearing.
The BBC study interviewed over 4,700 women, with and without breast cancer, in five major cities across the US about their bra wearing habits. They found an dramatically increased risk of breast cancer in women who wore their bra more than 12 hours a day, and this risk sky-rocketed in women who wore their bra 24 hours a day, even to sleep.
The BBC Study Results:
- Women who do not wear bras (or rarely ever) have a risk of 1 in 168 chance of developing breast cancer.
- Women who wear a bra less than 12 hours a day have a 1 in 152 chance of developing breast cancer.
- Women who wear a bra more than 12 hours a day, but not to sleep have a 1 in 7 chance of developing breast cancer.
- Women who wear a bra 24 hours a day have a 3 in 4 chance of developing breast cancer.
The information in this book is convincing, yet has been either ignored by cancer researchers, dismissed, or covered-up. The media has not covered this information positively because of the conflicts of interest of companies who have paid advertising from organizations that provide drugs, technology, or services for cancer treatment, because cancer treatment and prevention are at odds with one another.
Additionally, there was a Harvard study, published in the European Journal of Cancer in 1991 that showed double the increased risk of breast cancer in perimenopausal women who wear bras compared to women who did not.
At the Flinders Medical Centre Foundation, Professor Neil Piller is conducting research on the connection between bras and lymphatic health, and reports that bras do compress and restrict the shallow lymphatic system and prevent drainage for some women.
There has also been research from Japan that tight fitting bras can increase the temperature of the breast tissue, and the increased heat can cause a reduction in the production of melatonin by the pineal gland, which is a risk factor for breast cancer.
There are many reasons why bras can negatively impact health, including the decrease in lymphatic circulation due to tight clothing, the heating of the breast tissue interfering with hormone production, and longer bra wearing by women with known risk factors such as obesity and early onset of puberty. Combine that with an already compromised system, such as the modern breast that is overloaded with toxins and xenoestrogens, the bra may be the trigger that prevents the body to naturally heal and repair.
There is definitely a lot more research needed, and it would be great to see such an important issue for women today to be more fully studied and not so quickly dismissed. In the meantime, prevention is key.
Let the Bra Go
If your breasts are sensitive or painful when you go bra-free, that is a sign of congestion which will go away between a few days to a few months when your breasts get used to the enhanced circulation and movement. Pain in the body is a sign of inflammation, toxicity, hormone imbalance, or something else, it is not normal for the body to regularly feel pain for no reason.
Dr. Elizabeth Vaughan of Greensboro Integrative Medicine has an website called Bra Free, in which she shares information from over 25 years of encouraging her patients to go bra free including the health benefits, reduced discomfort, and greater breast health they achieved.
Increased bra wearing is also due to the increase in the average breast size of women today, as well as the earlier onset of puberty, which may be triggered by the increase in estrogen in the body due to environmental factors, as well as resulting in an increase in the amount of estrogen in the body longterm, which is also a risk factor for breast cancer.
Uncomfortable breasts may also be a sign of hormonal imbalance and high estrogen levels, which can cause breasts to grow larger and more tender. If you have painful breasts, you may want to look into a cleanse and nutritional support to support your breasts and endocrine system to be naturally vibrant and healthy.
Your nutrition, your environment, your beliefs, and even what you wear all influence your breast health and whole body health. You are the one responsible for your health and body, so make an informed choice for yourself and be a conscious caretaker of your body and breasts.
Tips for Taking the Girls Out
- Go bra-free whenever possible.
- If you are nervous about your nipples showing, either get over it, or use a scarf, bolero, jacket, layers, or a camisole.
- If you must wear a bra to work or to leave the house, take it off as soon as you can.
- Do not wear a bra more than 12 hours a day or to sleep.
- Get professionally fitted for a correct sized bra at the time of the month when your breasts are the biggest (usually before your period if you are menstruating).
- Invest in a comfortable, properly sized bra with no underwires. For soft organic bras, including breastfeeding friendly ones, try Blue Canoe.
- Look at your breasts and body in the mirror when you take off your bra. Do you have any red marks or lines? That is a warning sign your bra is cutting off circulation.
- After removing your bra, or several times a day, gently jiggle and move your breasts to stimulate circulation.
- Massage your breasts in the morning after your shower before getting dressed, and at the end of the day, after you have taken off your bra.
- Pay attention to your breasts and notice how they feel. Touch them, look at them, and go bra free as much as often as you can.
Breasts are amazing just the way they are!
Naturally supporting your breast health promotes longevity, sensuality, and vitality.
Let them jiggle and bounce and move naturally. Movement is life.
Take care of your breasts and take off your bra!
Do you wear a bra less than 12 hours a day? Are there ways you can reduce your bra-wearing time and/or support more natural movement for your breasts? Are you bra-free and loving it? Please share in the comments.