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Is wearing a bra/brassiere a cause for breast cancer? How?

zawadia otieno

There is no significant evidence that suggests that wearing a bra or an underwire bra can cause breast cancer. You may have heard-wearing a bra can cause breast cancer. However, it’s just a claim. There is no study that proves that bras can cause breast cancer in women. Then what causes breast cancer? A research team is working on a groundbreaking level to find and explore the causes of breast cancer. 

Artemis Hospital is considered the best hospital for breast cancer treatment in India.

If you’re someone who wears an underwire bra then you must have felt uncomfortable at some point of time. But it has nothing to do with the risk of developing breast cancer. Wearing an antiperspirant, wearing a bra at night, or wearing an underwire bra develops breast cancer are rumors created on the internet that have no scientific evidence. So, how did this rumor fueled? The myth came from a book in 1995 called “Dressed to kill” by Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer. The book claimed that women who wore underwire bras for more than 12 hours had a higher risk of developing breast cancer than the women who do not wear bras at all. It explained that the bra restricts the flow of body fluids which leads to the accumulation of toxins in the breast area. All these claims are declared to be “rumors” by the American Cancer Society. Additionally, wearing no-bras will reduce the risk of breast cancer is also considered to be a myth. 

In a nutshell, underwire bras do not cause breast cancer. It is just a claim based on no-proof concern that underwire bras cause breast cancer by blocking the drainage of lymph fluids from the bottom of the breast so it cannot get back to the body. In reality, body fluids do travel up into the armpits lymph nodes and not towards the underwire. A study was conducted on some women who wore a bra and some who didn’t wear a bra. However, there was no line of risk difference between these two groups. 

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How do you know if you have breast cancer?

Signs of breast cancer in women:

  • Irritation on the breast area.
  • New lump in the armpit or breast area.
  • Pain in the nipple area.
  • Discharge from the niple other than milk. 
  • Swelling of the breast area.
  • Redness in the nipple or breast area.
  • Change in size and shape of the nipple.

The above are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. If you notice any of the above signs, make an appointment with your doctor today! Read more for medical assistance.

Overweight or obesity in women may cause the risk of developing breast cancer. There are many factors that increase the risk of breast cancer such as diet, lack of exercise, poor lifestyle, and exposure to harmful toxins that may cause breast cancer. Breast cancer can also be age-related. Early diagnosis can help treat cancer. 

Even if some women who wear underwire bras are diagnosed with breast cancer, it is because they may have heavier breast and heavy breast is the sign of obesity which is the risk of developing breast cancer. 

Risk factors that causes breast cancer and are NOT under your control:

  • Starting menopause after the age of 55 may increase the risk of breast cancer.
  • Dense breast tissue and fibrocystic breasts may increase the risk of breast cancer.
  • After the age 45 years, white women have higher chances of developing cancer compared to dark women but balck women may also have cancer before age 45 and are likely to die of breast cancer.
  • Around 99% women represent breast cancer patients and have a 12% chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer in their life.
  • The chance to develop breast cancer rises with age. 
  • Inherited mutations namely BRCA1 and BRCA 2 may increase the risk of breast cancer. 
  • A history of breast cancer, abnormal breast cells may increase the risk of invasive breast cancer in women. 
  • Early menstruation in the age of 12 may also increase the risk of breast cancer by affecting the level of reproductive hormones. 
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Risk factors leading to risk of breast cancer that CAN be controlled:

  • Lack of physical activity may lead to the risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Exposure to high radiation on the chest area before the age of 30 years may increase the risk of breast cancer.
  • Overweight or obesity is the number one risk factor. That can be controlled by maintaining a healthy body weight.
  • Women who undergo hormonal therapy for menopause are likely to develop breast cancer. 
  • Smoking and tobacco is the cause of breast cancer and other types of cancer.
  • Women who took DES drugs during pregnancy are at a high risk of breast cancer. 
  • Women who drink 2 alcoholic beverages a day are at higher risk of developing breast cancer. 
  • Women who do not feed their children during the first 6 months of delivery may develop breast cancer.
  • Women who have kids later in the age of 35 or more and who do not have kids at all are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer. 


Wearing an underwire bra or any bra for that matter will not cause breast cancer. Also, wearing no bra will not reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. If you think you’re at risk of developing breast cancer, discuss it with your doctor on ways to lower the risk. Make healthy choices to lower the risk instead of going braless!

zawadia otieno

A head consultant and a medical professional having 11 years+ experience in the field of medicines.

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