Will you get breast cancer if you wear a bra to bed?

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According to The American Cancer Society, American Breast Cancer Society, and BreastCancer.org, (see reference links at the bottom of the page), wearing a bra, at day, night or both, will not give you breast cancer, although they have no scientific research to support their claim. In fact, there has not been any research to date that refutes the link between breast cancer and bras, and these organizations have shown no interest in pursuing this needed research. However, a Harvard study in 1991 did show bra-free women had a lower rate of breast cancer than bra wearing women. And a medical anthropological study published in 1995 suggested bras are the leading cause of breast cancer. The proposed method for bras causing breast cancer (the build up of "toxins" due to constriction) has been called implausible by the American Cancer Society, although many health care practitioners find it highly plausible. In fact, cancer and lymphatic experts advise women not to wear tight bras because it can impair lymphatic drainage from the arms and chest and cause lymphedema.

Some other factors that increase your risk of breast cancer are:
  • Sex: Women are much more likely to get breast cancer than men.
  • Age: the chances of getting breast cancer increase with age, especially after 65.
  • Race: After age 35, White women are more likely to get breast cancer than Black women, but Black women who get breast cancer are more likely to die from it.
  • Family history: certain inherited genetic mutations (BRCA1 and/or BRCA2) increase the risk. Even without those genes, having a grandmother, mother, sister, or daughter diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer also increases the risk.
  • A woman who has previously had breast, ovarian, endometrial, or colon cancer is more likely to get breast cancer.
  • A woman who has had LCIS or certain other breast conditions such as atypical hyperplasia is more likely to get breast cancer.
  • High levels of radiation to the chest area (for treatment of lymphoma, for example) can increase the risk.
  • High bone density levels after menopause can increase the risk.
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding history: never having children, having a first pregnancy after age 30, and never breastfeeding each increases the risk.
  • Menstrual history: Beginning menstruation at age 12 or younger, and/or having menopause after age 55 increases the risk of breast cancer.
  • Postmenopausal obesity increases the risk.
  • History of hormone use, including contraceptives and menopausal hormone replacement increases the risk.
  • Alcohol consumption: women who drink an average of only 1 alcoholic drink per day increase their risk of breast cancer by approximately 7%.
  • Physical inactivity increases risk.
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke increases breast cancer risk.
More answers from other WikiAnswer contributors: Wearing bras to bed could cause breast cysts, pain, and cancer. It has to do with the constrictive nature of bras. Compression and constriction of the breast tissue by bras prevents the lymphatic system from cleansing the breast tissue of toxins. These toxins (some of which cause cancer) enter our bodies from our petrochemically polluted world, in our water, food, and air, and they course throughout our bodies and need to be flushed out of the tissue by the lymphatic system. Wearing a bra prevents this cleansing process, and causes the fluid in the tissue to back-up, resulting in lymph edema and associated pressure, pain, cysts, and, ultimately, cancer.

If your bra leaves red marks or indentation, then it is too tight. The longer a bra is worn, the more damage is done to the breast tissue. A study done on over 4700 US women found that women who wear their bras to bed, which means 24/7 of bra wearing, have a 75% chance of developing breast cancer. Conversely, bra-free women have the same low rates of breast cancer as men.

Bras should be worn as loosely as possible, certainly less than 12 hours daily, and never to bed. For more on this, see the book, Dressed To Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras, by medical anthropologists Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer. You can also visit the authors' website at the Self Study Center link below this article.

The best thing to do is to try an experiment on yourself. Stop wearing a bra for a few weeks and see how you feel afterwards. Most women find that their breast pain and cysts go away. And it will help you prevent breast cancer, too.

The top answer is a controversial theory. Many experts believe the studies by Singer and Grismaijer to be flawed or at least inconclusive. You may want to see the short overview from Scientific American's site that is listed in the related links section below this article.

It is just fine to wear a bra to bed for fibrocystic disease or sore breasts for women who have breast pain caused by hormonal changes and also women who have 'cluster lumps' in their breasts. It's best to see a proper bra specialist for those that deal with women who have had a breast removed. These bras are made correctly (rather than buying in a retail store.) I suffer from sore breasts from hormonal changes and will wear a good bra to bed, but not always.

Cancer info can be found at cancer.org, the American cancer society web site. I do not believe wearing a bra to bed will cause breast cancer. I have been working in oncology for years and have never heard of this.

There is no complete scientific study on this and no indication that wearing a bra to bed will cause cancer. However, the one poster who mentioned 'ridges' from their bra has a point as far as comfort -- the bra is too constrictive. If you must wear a bra to bed then wear a comfortable one (not a push up bra).

We have no way of knowing if the study that suggested this is valid or not. The finding provided by Singer (the man who wrote the article and researched this idea) makes logical sense. It should at least be given a chance to be studied by several others. Preferably by those who don't get paid or funded by anyone with a something to gain from the under garment industry.

I really believe that there is an underlying problem here. I think we are so afraid of our natural bodies that we refuse to look further into this in fear of what others might think of us. Think about it! If we see someone walking down the street or at the local shopping center chances are that we can tell whether they are wearing a bra or not. And for the majority of us (Americans) will almost immediately think, "Go put a bra on!" For some reason we look down on women going without bras. We really need to stop this mentality. Every single woman on this planet has breasts. We all know what they look like, so there is no reason for us to have this stigma or look of disgust about not wearing bras. That's the first step.

The study seems to make logical sense. The numbers Singer gives is very, very significant. Do you really want to even take the risk of the study being right or wrong? Two women in my family have breast cancer (that I am aware of) and they both just happen to be two of the ones that wear their bras 24 hours a day, minus bathing, of course. Now is this just a coincidence? Who knows. But why take the chance before any serious research is done. Because all they are doing right now is dismissing the study as invalid and refusing to do real research into it.

Now, if for whatever reason you have an issue where your doctor wants you to wear your bra to bed, then you should never go against your doctor's advice, in my opinion. And I am not here to give any real answer to this question, only to propose the counter question. What does it hurt not to wear it to bed?

A different view:
This is the first I have ever heard of wearing bras to bed causing breast cancer.
I absolutely detest wearing bras but, being a D cup, I suffer considerable discomfort, and even pain, when I go two or three days in a row without wearing one, and obviously, I can't go in public without wearing one. But the thought of wearing them to bed is about as appealing as sleeping in barbed wire.

I have tried every kind, shape, and type of bra possible, even spending $80 each on custom fitted bras. I was stupid enough to buy 3 of them without even first making sure I would like them, but at least now I know the more expensive ones are just as uncomfortable as the less expensive ones.

So with it being uncomfortable and even painful when I don't wear a bra, and being very uncomfortable when I do wear them, there's not much in the way of middle ground here. I have found the sports bras to be among the more tolerable, as well as the no hook, all elastic, pull-on bras. But the best thing I have found recently is a camisole (shaped more like a tank top), which actually supports, but without the awful band that goes around you as a bra does. They are made of a spandex/lycra blend, have cups with 'modesty' pads which can be removed, and because they are made of the spandex/lycra blend, they give good support, but without bra lines. I love the support and comfort they offer, both of which are crucial to me!

As for the research on the theory that wearing bras to bed causes breast cancer, I think it's just that - no more than a theory. But it does make sense that the constriction of a bra worn 24/7 could interfere with circulation and the lymphatic system's ability to remove toxins.
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