Bras and Breast Cancer: Myth Busted in New Study
the MPR take:
The old wives’ tale that wearing a bra increases the risk of breast cancer can finally be laid to rest, according to a new study in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. The only epidemiological evidence for this myth stems from a 1991 case-controlled study which reported a non-statistically significant two-fold greater risk among pre-menopausal women who wore a bra vs. those who did not; no increased risk was seen in postmenopausal women. Thus, researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA devised a population-based case-control study of 1,044 postmenopausal women ages 55–74 years of age who were diagnosed between 2000–2004 with invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) or invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC). Breast cancer risk factors and bra-wearing habits were collected via in-person interviews with the study participants. No aspects of bra wearing (bra cup size, recency, average number of hours/days worn, underwire in bra vs. no underwire, or age of first regular bra wearing) were associated with increased risks of IDC or ILC breast cancer. While there was some evidence that women who wore an A-cup bra had an increased risk of both IDC and ILC, it was not statistically significant.
Despite the widespread use of bras among U.S. women and concerns in the lay media that bra wearing may increase breast cancer risk, there is a scarcity of credible scientific studies addressing this issue.