I was doing some routine web searching tonight and I saw your web article again on the topic of bras and breast disease. I read with interest you comments about tight versus "well-fitting" bras. I may have already commented on this, but in case I haven't, I want to mention that none of the studies of bras and breast disease have looked at types of bras. " R
(From Mike: a woman in California is doing just that while working her way through a Ph.D program she is fitting bras at Victoria's Secret. She sees variation in bra cup sizes as a significant issue. I pointed out to her the aspect of constriction from cup size differences and the band/chest strap restriction).
Back to R.
For this reason, I feel that it is not possible to make conclusions about the relative hazards of different types of bras. Many people have concluded that the problem is "tight bras" or "ill-fitting bras" but these conclusions are at best speculation. Some people have decided that the problem is the under-wires, but again, we have no data on this, only speculation. Sure, if the major mechanism of the bra/disease connection is constriction of lymphatic circulation, then one could assume that tighter bras could be *worse* than looser bras. However, even in that case, there is no evidence that loose-fitting bras do not cause damage.
There are other possible mechanisms of actions of bras in terms of disease. Two major ones are breast immobilization and elevation of breast temperature. They are separate issues, and either one could be a major mechanism of disease causation. We know from the case histories that some women have problems even when wearing very loose, all-cotton, "nothing bras." We know that the problem was bra-related, because the pain and cysts were eliminated after bra-wearing ceased (see case history #2 at: http://www.all-natural.com/fibrocys.html
Other women have complained that even wearing stretchy lycra tank tops has caused them problems in terms of tenderness and breast pain, in comparison to wearing a loose camisole or undershirt. The effect of these looser garments could be from increased breast temperature, or from the decreased lymphatic circulation due to relative immobilization.
For thousands of years, womens' breast lymphatic circulation has been spurred along from the breast movement that happens with every step, whether walking or running. Immobilization and constriction are not natural.
Last month, I made a partial transcript of the audio track of the British film documentary, which aired on British T.V. the first week of November, 2000, and which chronicled the British bra and breast pain studies. I will send it in a separate e-mail. I did my best to quote it word for word, but some small mistakes are possible. One of these days I will gear up and make a few dozen copies of the tape, but for now, I hope that you will find the partial transcript interesting. There is a substantial portion of the film that is devoted to breast heating. This would occur regardless of the presence of underwires.
I hope that I don't sound like I am "splitting hairs." I very much like your article and appreciate your interest in this important health topic. I especially like your connecting other forms of binding with the bra topic, such as foot binding. I recall that the authors of the bras and sagging research study also discussed corsets and foot binding in the introduction to their published scientific article. (In case I haven't sent that one to you, I'll send another copy tonight.
My main concern about the "tight bra" issue is that women might be led to assuming that looser bras are safe. Currently, all we know from research is that bras in general are linked with disease.
Recently, I made a list of a time line of research on this topic. I will also send that by e-mail tonight. As usual, I would love to hear your comments. Perhaps you know of some missing links.
A few of the highlights of the history of research on the
link between bras and breast disease
- About 1930 a paper was published making a connection between corsets and increased breast cancer rates.
- 1978 An M.D. in California published an article in a medical journal linking bras with elevated breast temperature, and he suggested that this might have a connection with breast cancer. He studied several hundred women in a medical practice and also observed that the heavier the bra material, the hotter the breast, and that bra-free women of all sizes had cooler breasts. (The Lancet, November 4, 1978, P. 1001 Dr. John M. Douglass, Department of Internal Medicine, S. Calif. Permanente Med. Center Los Angeles, California) see also item #8 for more about breast temperature.
- 1991 Researchers at Harvard University publish a medical journal article on breast cancer risk. As a side issue of their paper, they mention that the women in their study that did not wear bras had a 60% lower rate of breast cancer than the women who wore bras. (Hsieh, C.C. and D. Trichopoulos, D. Eur. J. Cancer 27:131-5, 1991 "Breast size, handedness and breast cancer risk")
- 1991 Researchers in Japan published a study on bras and sagging, in which they proved that a bra can actually increase breast sagging, rather than the opposite. This effect was most noticeable in larger breasted women. They compared bras to foot binding in their discussion section. ("Breast Form Changes Resulting From A Certain Brassiere" Journal of Hum. Ergol.(Tokyo) 1990 Jun; 19(1):53-62. Ashizawa K, Sugane A, Gunji T Institute of Human Living Sciences, Otsuma Women's University, Tokyo, Japan)
- 1995 Sydney Singer and Soma Grismaijer of the Institute for the Study of Culturogenic Disease published their book, "Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras," (Avery Press). Their study included almost 4600 women, half of whom had breast cancer and half of whom did not. They found that the more hours per day that a bra is worn, the higher the rate of breast cancer and that women who do not wear bras have a dramatically reduced rate of breast cancer. Singer and Grismaijer have a website at: http://www.selfstudycenter.org/
- 1995 through the present. Many women, who had concerns about breast cancer risk and/or breast pain, quit wearing bras and then found that their pain and cysts of fibrocystic breast disease was dramatically decreased or eliminated. Several of these women wrote their own personal case histories, which appear on the web at: http://www.all-natural.com/fibrocys.html
- May 1999. A landmark study was published in the prestigious British medical journal, The Lancet. This study showed that pre-menopausal women with fibrocystic breast disease have an almost 6-fold higher risk of future breast cancer. This study firmly refutes the advice of some doctors who have said that fibrocystic carries no increased risk. In all, there are now over 30 published medical and scientific research articles showing a connection between fibrocystic and increased breast cancer risk. (Lancet 1999 May 22;353(9166):1742-5 "Risk of breast cancer in women with palpable breast cysts: a prospective study." Edinburgh Breast Group. Dixon JM, McDonald C, Elton RA, Miller WR Edinburgh Breast Unit, Western General Hospital, UK.")
2000. Two British breast surgeons conduct clinical trials at two breast clinics in England and Wales. They study 100 women to see if going bra-free (a more positive term the physicians used for braless) could lessen breast pain. Their study concluded that the majority of pre-menopausal women found decreased pain during a three-month bra-free study period. The women were instructed to not wear a bra for three months, and instead to wear a loose and non-restricting camisole if they desired an alternative undergarment. For comparison, they then returned to wearing bras for the another three months. For additional study control, another group of women did the reverse and were bra-wearers for three months, then bra-free for three months. A half-hour documentary was filmed in conjunction with the studies and was shown on nationwide television in England in November, 2000 on Channel 4 UK. Several of the women were interviewed and discussed the life-altering improvements in their breast health, such as being able to now pick up their children or hug their spouse without pain. (Simon Cawthorne, M.D. surgeon at Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, England and Prof. Robert Mansel, M.D., Surgery Dept. Head, University of Wales Medical School, Cardif, Wales.)
Doctors interviewed in the film commented about how breasts in bras are hotter than bra-free breasts and the possible connection of this breast heating with breast cancer. Prof. Hugh Simpson discussed his published research, which has previously proven that pre-cancerous and cancerous breasts are both hotter than normal breasts. The documentary included video thermography of women with and without bras, proving that bras cause localized heating of breast tissue.
- 2000. A group of researchers in Japan published their studies showing that wearing a girdle and bra lowers the levels of the hormone melatonin by 60 percent. (Chronobiol Int 2000 Nov;17(6):783-93 "The effects of skin pressure by clothing on circadian rhythms of core temperature and salivary melatonin." Lee YA, Hyun KJ, Tokura H, Department of Environmental Health, Nara Women's University, Japan.)
Melatonin is intimately involved with sleep cycles and is used to prevent jet-lag. Numerous published studies have suggested that melatonin has anti-cancer activities, that it is an antioxidant and can prevent DNA damage, and that it is intimately involved in the immune system and can bind directly to T helper cells. Researchers in Spain have published an article outlining the possible use of melatonin in breast cancer prevention and treatment (Histol Histopathol 2000 Apr;15(2):637-47).
December 2000. A medical doctor published his findings on shoulder pain treatment in women with large breasts. In this five-year study, it was suggested that patients remove the weight from their shoulders for a period of two weeks, either by going braless or by wearing a strapless bra. Only one woman chose a strapless bra and all the others went braless. quoting the article, "Long-term outcome was presence or absence of muscle pain and tenderness. Seventy-nine percent of patients decided to remove breast weight from the shoulder permanently because it rendered them symptom free." (Ryan, EL, Clin J Pain 2000 Dec;16(4):298-303,
"Pectoral girdle myalgia in women: a 5-year study in a clinical setting.")
Clin J Pain 2000 Dec;16(4):298-303 Related Articles, Books Pectoral girdle myalgia in women: a 5-year study in a clinical setting. Ryan EL firstname.lastname@example.org
[Medline record in process]
OBJECTIVE: To determine the part played by drag on the pectoral girdle muscles of women in the production of pain in these muscles from breast weight being carried at the shoulders through the brassiere straps.
DESIGN: When patients presented with pain in the pectoral girdle musculature, breast weight was recorded. The sites of pain and tenderness were also recorded because tenderness in the trapezius has been shown to correlate well with muscle ischemia. The patient was then asked if she would be willing to remove breast weight from the shoulders for two weeks, as a trial, to see whether pain was relieved. The Student t test was used to determine whether breast weight was significant in producing symptoms and signs in the pectoral girdle musculature and, if so, where these sites were located.
SETTING: Private surgical practice with patients initiating the consultation randomly.
INTERVENTION: Removal of breast weight from the shoulders for a period of 2 weeks. The choice of method was left to the patient. Most chose brassiere removal; only one patient chose a strapless brassiere.
RESULTS: Presence or absence of muscle pain after the trial period. Long-term outcome was presence or absence of muscle pain and tenderness. Seventy-nine percent of patients decided to remove breast weight from the shoulder permanently because it rendered them symptom free.
The following article was published in Nov 2000. It clearly establishes that clothing can have chemical and physiological effects on the human body.
Chronobiol Int 2000 Nov;17(6):783-93 Related Articles, Books
The effects of skin pressure by clothing on circadian rhythms of core temperature and salivary melatonin.
Lee YA, Hyun KJ, Tokura H
Department of Environmental Health, Nara Women's University, Japan.
[Medline record in process]
The present experiment investigated the effects of skin pressure by foundation garments (girdle and brassiere) on the circadian rhythms of core temperature and salivary melatonin. Ten healthy females (18-23 years) maintained regular sleep-wake cycles for a week prior to participation in the experiment. The experiments were performed from June to August 1999 using a bioclimatic chamber controlled at 26.5 degrees C +/- 0.2 degrees C and 62% +/- 3% RH. Ambient light intensity was controlled at 500 lux from 07:30 to 17:30, 100 lux from 17:30 to 19:30, 20 lux from 19:30 to 23:30; there was total darkness from 23:30 to 07:30. The experiment lasted for 58h over three nights. The participants arose at 07:30 on the first full day and retired at 23:30, adhering to a set schedule for 24h, but without wearing foundation garments. For the final 24h of the second full day, the subjects wore foundation garments. Rectal and leg skin temperatures were measured continuously throughout the experiment. Saliva and urine were collected every 4h for the analysis of melatonin and catecholamines, respectively. Skin pressure applied by the foundation garments was in the range 11-17 gf/cm2 at the regions of the abdomen, hip, chest, and back.
The main results were as follows: (1) Rectal temperatures were significantly higher throughout the day and night when wearing foundation garments. (2) The nocturnal level of salivary melatonin measured at 03:30 was 115.2 +/- 40.4 pg/mL (mean +/- SEM, N = 10) without and 51.3 +/- 18.4 pg/mL (mean +/- SEM, N = 10) with foundation garments. (3) Mean urinary noradrenaline excretion was significantly lower throughout the day and night when wearing foundation garments (p < .05), but mean urinary adrenaline excretion was not different. The results suggest that skin pressure by clothing could markedly suppress the nocturnal elevation of salivary melatonin, resulting in an increase of rectal temperature.
British study links bras to cysts and breast cancer
National post article on British study
October 31, 2000
The Sunday Telegraph
LONDON - Wearing a bra exposes women to a "statistically significant" risk of increased breast pain, cysts in the breast and might even be linked to the development of cancer, according to a study in Britain.
The research by two medical experts found a link between bras and clinical breast pain, a condition that affects 40% of women.
A hundred women who regularly suffered from breast pain or cysts were asked to go without a bra for three months and then return to wearing one for three months to see if there was any difference. The researchers found that pre-menopausal women not wearing a bra experienced a 7% reduction in the number of days they suffered breast pain.
However, little benefit was found for post-menopausal women.
Robert Mansell, a professor of surgery at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff who conducted the research with Simon Cawthorn, a consultant surgeon at the Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, said more research is needed into the findings on breast pain and to determine if wearing a bra results in any long-term damage.
The scientists suspect problems are caused by bras suppressing the lymphatic system -- the network of vessels that flushes toxic waste from the body. They plan further research into what happens if the lymphatic system is blocked, and whether this leads to an accumulation of toxins in the breast tissue.
Prof. Mansell said the work is of particular concern because the garments appear to be compressing the body at the outer upper part of the breast -- the area where 80% of the lymph flows.
He also believes the constricting elastic straps of a bra could contribute to the development of cysts.
"One of the theories of cyst formation is back pressure on a little duct in the breast, which makes the milk-producing bit at the end swell up," he said.
Seven per cent of British women suffer from cysts and most of them wear bras.
Breast-cancer levels in Britain are two-thirds higher today than they were 30 years ago and the scientists say their findings might support the theories of an American medical anthropologist, Sydney Ross Singer, who has long claimed there is a distinct pattern of risk associated with the length of time a woman wears a bra and her chances of developing breast cancer.
Some quotes from doctors on the subjects of fibromyalgea, cancer, and bras
In Western countries such as the USA, a large percentage of women experience benign (non-cancerous) but often quite painful cysts and lumps in their breasts. Many women, and unfortunately many doctors, think that fibrocystic breast disease is a "normal" condition for women; some even say that it is not a "disease." These opinions may be causing needless suffering for millions of women. However, some doctors have a different opinion. In order to try to inform women of "the rest of the story" and to encourage more research on prevention, it could be useful to list some other sources of information on this subject that affects so many women.
Fortunately, many doctors feel that fibrocystic is a real disease that needs to be dealt with. Dr. Richard Santen, M.D., says: (at http://www.ivanhoe.com/docs/backissues/benignbreastclinicqa.html) -
(unfortunately, this web link is no longer active) "If a (breast) duct becomes blocked it will fill up with fluid and it is very much like a balloon filled with water. It is a round area filled with fluid that represents a blocked duct. That's the cystic component of fibrocystic disease. The area around that blocked duct then has the tendency to form scar tissue and that's the fibrous component of the fibrocystic disease." "Benign breast disease....let's consider this as a medical problem and focus on trying to treat the patient rather than saying it's not cancer let's forget about it."
Dr. John McDougall, M.D., states in his recent book titled The McDougall Program for a Healthy Heart, on p.246, "After repeated bouts of inflammation, the breasts develop scar tissue in many places, and some of the milk ducts become plugged, forming cysts. Fibrocystic breast disease, not surprisingly, is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer."
Michael Schacter, M.D. writes:
(at http://healthy.net/library/articles/schacter/breast.d.htm) incomplete article
"Any activity which will help to remove accumulated toxins in the breasts will help to reduce the chances of developing breast cancer." "It is the job of the lymphatic system of the body to help drain toxic substances from tissues and poor lymphatic drainage may play a role in breast cancer formation." "(Lymph flow) is very sensitive to constricting external pressure which can impede its flow. Bras and other external tight clothing can impede flow." "So, the take home message to women is to wear bras as little as possible and when wearing them try to choose one that is least constricting."
Researchers at the University of Texas S.W. Medical Center have found that bra straps can "cause headaches and lead to serious nerve damage." "Tight bra straps are especially hazardous for full-busted women, but all women are susceptible."
Nevada physician, Dr. Theodore Potruch, M.D., writing about breast pain, ... states: "I suggest that you switch to a looser fitting bra, and the (breast) pain might even disappear."
Dr. Christiane Northrup, M.D., Univ. of Vermont College of Medicine author of "Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom," writes "Stop wearing an underwire bra. Too often this kind of bra cuts off circulation of both blood and lymph fluid around the breast, chest wall, and surrounding tissue."
Dr. Jesse Hanley, M.D., (in her book called "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause," Warner Books, 1999), writes "Dr. Hanley encourages her patients not to wear underwire bras or even tight bras, except for special occasions because they block the lymph glands underneath the breast. Lymph glands play an important role in draining toxins from the breast."
Thirty published medical and scientific studies have shown a connection between fibrocystic and an increased risk of breast cancer; the most recent was published in 1999. (available on request, just e-mail me at email@example.com). Medical anthropologists Sydney Singer and Soma Grismaijer, in a study of over 4000 women, found that women who *do not* wear bras have a much lower risk of breast cancer ("Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras" Avery Press, 1995).
Fortunately, many women have found that by wearing undergarments less restrictive than bras (camisoles, tank tops, etc.) they can dramatically reduce or eliminate fibrocystic cysts and pain. Seven case histories, all written by women who have experienced this, are available at: http://www.all-natural.com/fibrocys.html Singer and Grismaijer have found that most women with fibrocystic improve when they quit wearing bras. This has now also been supported by studies at two British hospitals, involving 100 women, which showed that the majority of pre-menopausal women with breast pain found less pain during a three month bra-free clinical trial.
No one is saying that bra abstinence will eradicate breast cancer, or even all cases of fibrocystic. However, the evidence for a connection is certainly sufficient for further study by the medical community. Meanwhile, individual women with or without fibrocystic conditions have promising alternatives to consider.
Nina L. Diamond in her book Purify Your Body: Natural Remedies for Detoxing from 50 Everyday Situations recommends
- Wear the correct bra size. Make sure it's not too tight.
- Never sleep with a bra on.
- Go braless as often as possible.
- Wear a bra less than 12 hours daily.
- Do self massage of the lymph glands under each arm, next to your breasts, at least a few times a week.
Nine Steps to Prevent Breast Cancer
Cancer is not one disease but many.
Step One: Eliminate chronic constriction from brassieres. FirstWarningSystems.com (circadiam biometric recorder) will present a bra insert that detects heat areas and is linked to a computer. Think thermography but different detection mechanisms. Great idea. Brassieres can restrict blood flow, increase heat, force shallow breathing, lower blood oxygen, increase breathing rates, restrict lymphatic function. Relieving the Trauma of Mammography
Step Three: Follow a predominantly raw living food diet.
Step Four: Minimize your exposure to toxic chemicals
Step Five: Avoid alcohol
Step Six: Exercise moderately and regularly
Step Seven: Pray or meditate
Step Eight: Consume daily one ounce of water per pound of body weight
Nine: Use regular internal cleansers like Oxy-Cleanse
They have not mentioned this particular use and may never as the FDA would them jump through hoops but I say the FLIR ONE smart phone camera add-on looks like an incredible tool to expose hot spots in the breast arena. Get a worrisome reading? ....go see a preventive medicine MD NOW and hopefully pre-empt the mammogram. Ladies. Create a club and pass this tool around.
To offset possible damage due to having worn restricting brassieres.
Aside from looser clothing, internal cleansing and nutritional factors one must redevelop elasticity of the rib cage and free up the already restricted accessory breathing muscles so that they do no restrict chest circulation and hinder breathing sequencing and balance as it relates to speaking and singing.
Our Deepest Calm program is a giant step towards regaining full breathing and oxygen enhancing function whether you actually experience shortness of breath or not. Click here for our Breathing Development Program.
Brassiers Page 2 (British documentary)