are bras bad for breasts?

Dangers of wearing bras.

Autumn! A time for crispy cool breezes, warm herbal teas and deeply hued leaves. As October comes to a close, it's also a time for breast cancer awareness. You may already self-examine your breasts and schedule regular check-ups to keep the ladies healthy. Those are great habits, however they only detect issues, not prevent.

A plant-based diet, meditation and exercise are some ways to keep the body’s toxicity levels low to prevent breast diseases. There’s also a lesser known preventative step you can take for healthier, happier and PERKIER breasts!

 

take. off. your. bra.

 

Sounds simple. But how will unleashing the ladies make them healthier? According to research studies, bras can adversely affect breast health by constricting the lymphatic system, hindering blood circulation and altering hormone production. These complications can lead to breast pain, swelling, cysts, tumors and in worse cases, fibrocystic breast disease and cancer. The tighter the bra and the longer it's worn, the higher the risk.

If this information is new to you, skepticism may be creeping in. I get it. Westernized women have been indoctrinated with bra-wearing since puberty and they're an integral part of feminine attire in our society. So the idea of them being harmful may be unfathomable. But is it really that hard to believe?

If you’re like most women, you can’t wait to remove your bra when you get home. Something about releasing that last hook is oh-so-gratifying! Why are we excited to ditch the bra every night? Could our daily discomfort be just a “normal part of being a woman” or a signal that something is awry?

Something is indeed awry but you can't just tell a woman, "bras are bad", and send her on her way. I wrote this post to help break down this complex topic and guide you through:

  • the bodily systems bras affect
  • healthy breast-care habits
  • safer alternatives to traditional bras
  • how to go bra-free and 
  • resources to learn more

Let's get started!


BRA HISTORY

Africa

For black women, bra-wearing is a new norm adopted to assimilate into European society. Our African ancestors did not wear bras. Their breasts wiggled and jiggled. Most tribal African women continue to practice this healthy, cultural norm. “In aboriginal cultures where bra wearing is rare, so is breast cancer.” - Cynthia Perkins M.Ed.

 

Europe

The bra originated in Europe and replaced the formerly popular and harmful corset. The corset’s extremely tight lacing impaired breathing, digestion, kidney function and lymphatic circulation. The bra later replaced the corset as a safer form of breast “support.”


how do bras affect the body?

Research studies show bras adversely affect breast health by constricting the lymphatic system, hindering blood circulation and altering hormone production. But how? 

 

1. bras constrict lymph vessels

  • The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and nodes
  • The vessels carry a fluid called lymph that circulates the body collecting toxins
  • The toxin-carrying lymph fluid is filtered through the lymph nodes
  • When breasts are constricted by a tight bra, the lymph vessels compress
  • This compression traps the toxin-carrying lymph fluid in the breast tissue
  • The accumulated toxins can cause pain, cysts, fibrocystic breast disease and cancer

 

2. bras hinder blood circulation 

  • The blood circulatory system contains vessels
  • The blood vessels deliver nutrients and oxygen to the body's cells
  • When breasts are compressed by a tight bra, the vessels constrict, which hinders blood flow
  • This hindrance prevents the blood from delivering necessary nutrients and oxygen to the breasts
  • The result is malnourished breast tissue
  • Red marks and indentations on the skin from the bra signify a blood flow hindrance

 

3. bras alter hormone production 

  • Wearing a bra causes a slight increase in temperature of breast tissue
  • The temperature increase may alter levels of the hormones Prolactin and Melatonin
  • Prolactin promotes breast milk production and functions in the reproductive, immune and metabolic systems
  • Melatonin is crucial in the regulation of sleep, aging and immune function

bra RESEARCH STUDIES

  • Kenyan Study -  a team of senior cancer experts at the University of Nairobi, Aga Khan University and Kenyatta National Hospital found that the wearing of bras has been linked to breast cancer
  • Harvard Study - found that pre-menopausal women who do not wear bras had half the risk of breast cancer compared with bra users
  • Medical anthropologist Singer and Grismaijer - 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
  • Chinese Study - found that not sleeping in a bra was protective against breast cancer, lowering the risk 60%
  • Spain Study - found that underwired and push-up bras are the most harmful, but any bra that leaves red marks or indentation may cause disease

breast-care habits 

Incorporate these preventative habits into your breast-care routine and overcome complications caused by constricting bras.

  • Exercise - dancing, walking, jogging, jumping and rebounding help your breasts 'bounce' which stimulates lymph flow and blood circulation.
  • Workout bra-less - tight sports bras constrict breasts. Exercising bra-less allows your breasts to move freely and detoxify.
  • Dry Brushing - stimulates lymphatic flow. Practice it daily before your morning shower. 
  • Massage breasts - to stimulate lymphatic flow, enhance blood circulation and release emotional toxins. 
  • Take off bra - after work, on the weekends and whenever you're at home.
  • Shower Hydrotherapy - hot / cold showers stimulate the lymphatic system and blood circulation. Practice it daily during your morning shower.
  • Sleep bra-less - give your breasts a break at night while your body is regenerating cells.
  • Infrared Sauna - increases toxin elimination through sweat glands and stimulates blood circulation.
  • Cell phone precautions - NEVER put cell phones in your bra, or on / near your breasts (or uterus). The radiation is extremely harmful.
  • Avoid these highly constricting bras:
    • underwire bras 
    • push-up bras 
    • tight sports bras
    • bras that leave red marks or indentations

brA alternatives

Not ready to to be completely bra-free? Try these safer alternatives to traditional bras.

  • Bralettes
  • Wire-free bras
  • Breast Nest - great alternative for larger breasts

BRA-LESS STRATEGIES 

Ready to be free and bare-breasted? These strategies have helped me be happily bra-less!

  • Nipple Covers - this is my go-to product. They're comfortable and reusable.
  • Camisoles
  • Built-in-bra tank tops - make sure it's not too tight.
  • Layer clothing - layer camisoles, shirts and sweaters in cooler temps and light scarves in the summer.
  • Form fitting tops - dresses and tops that are form fitting (but not constricting) at the bust help to "lift" breasts, eliminating the need for a bra. Tuck a nipple cover inside and you're good to go!

bra-less Benefits

Since my bra-less journey began in 2015, I've experienced some wonderful and unexpected benefits!

  • Larger breasts 
  • Bra-free exercising is comfortable
  • No more breast tenderness or backaches during menstruation
  • Perkier breasts -
    • "Bras cause breasts to sag because chest muscles work less when breasts are supported and confined in a bra. Over time, these muscles and ligaments can atrophy because of a lack of use. When the chest muscles and ligaments have to bear the weight of the breasts, muscle tone returns." - Dr. Sadeghi  
  • Being bra-less feels natural and healthy!

Resources

Check out some of these resources to learn more about the dangers of bras and how to keep your breasts healthy!

 

Let's keep the conversation going! Comment below and share your thoughts on bras, breast health and being bra-free!

Peace + Be Well! Ashley


Breasts were made to bounce, jiggle and shake
because that’s exactly what they do.
— Ashley Goe Dickerson

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