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WHAT WOULD YOU
DO TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF BREAST CANCER?
two year study, completed in 1993 and published in 1995 asked questions of 4,500 women in 5 cities across the U.S. about their habits in purchasing and wearing bras. The study also asked the individual's age, income level, exposure to radiation and toxins, attitude towards appearance, bra wearing history, habits and comfort factor, and whether they had been diagnosed with breast cancer. To minimize the number of genetic variables in the study, all women were Caucasians. To aid in the analysis, it was desired that about an equal number of women who had been previously diagnosed with breast cancer (2,056) be interviewed as those without (2,444).
The purpose of the study was to try and determine whether bra wearing was in any way connected with the development of breast cancer. The notion that clothing may affect the inner workings of your body can be difficult to accept. Yet the researchers were looking at the possible interference of a basic system of the body by the garments worn. This body structure, which is often associated with the treatment of breast cancer, is the lymphatic system. You may have heard of someone who had lymph nodes removed as part of a mastectomy procedure.
It may be hard to believe, but a cause for breast cancer has never been determined, despite all the research money that has been spent. There have been many studies that characterize women who are at higher risk for the disease, but these risk factors are not associated with a root cause. For example, it has been shown that affluent women are at higher risk for breast cancer than poor women. But affluence is not a cause, it is only a correlation or risk factor. The cause, however, may be associated with the culture and lifestyle of the affluent.
The medical basis behind this theory is rooted in the function of the lymphatic system and its physical location within the body. The importance of the lymphatic system is that many of the toxins that accumulate around the individual cells are washed away by the lymph fluid. While as extensive and complex as the blood's circulatory system, instead of having a main pump for circulation (the heart), the lymphatic has a collection of pockets (lymph nodes) and relies on one-way valves (as in veins) and body motion (such as walking and breathing) to accomplish the circulation of lymph fluid.
The link between the lymphatic system's role in washing toxins from cell tissue and the potential for cancer is simple. The many cancer causing toxins that are in our environment require time in contact with individual cells to begin the mutation into cancer cells. If the lymphatic fluid is prevented from circulating, the toxins remain in contact with the cells for longer periods of time.
The effect of clothing on the proper operation of the lymphatic system is largely influenced by the fact that the lymph vessels are very delicate and close to the surface of the skin. They are easily constricted by elastic or tight fitting garments. The bra, by its very design, constricts the lymph vessels responsible for removing toxins from the cells in the breast tissue.
This is the basis of the theory presented by Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer as published in their book, Dressed To Kill.1 If the wearing of a bra affects the function of the lymphatic system, then a woman's attitude toward her appearance and her habits in bra wearing should coincide with the development and diagnosis of breast cancer.
They write, "If a particular lifestyle predisposes women to breast cancer, we might be able to characterize women with breast cancer as a subculture-a smaller culture that exists within the larger culture. Since this particular lifestyle choice pertains to the wearing of bras, we would expect women with breast cancer and women without breast cancer to differ from each other in the way they wear their bras. And since lifestyles are related to attitudes and values, we would also expect that to accompany their different bra-wearing behavior, women in the breast cancer subculture would have different attitudes and values about their bras and breasts." 2
They postulated that if a malfunction of the lymphatic system, caused by tight fitting bras, was responsible for the concentration of cancer causing toxins within the breasts, then a correlation would be found between the bra wearing habits of women and the incidence of breast cancer in these women. Their theory was reinforced by the fact that most benign lumps and cysts found in the breasts are largely composed of lymph fluid. They found reports that women diagnosed with these lumps could often have them completely disappear by ceasing to wear their bra for several weeks.
So what did the study show? While there is not room to present all the results of their study, the relevant information is presented below. To the question, "Are you comfortable with the size and shape of your breasts without a bra?" 18% of the Standard (non-cancer) group responded yes, while only 5% of the Cancer group responded yes. "Do you select bras to shape or accentuate your breasts?" Standard group: 74% yes; Cancer group: 87% yes. "Other than price, what is the most important feature you look for when buying a bra?" Standard group: 30% appearance; 51% comfort; Cancer group: 62% appearance; 25% comfort. 3
This first set of questions shows that the selection of bras to enhance appearance was more important to the group that had been diagnosed with breast cancer. A bra that enhances appearance must, by necessity, squeeze and pull the breast tissue into position. One would expect this shaping to be evidenced by discomfort or red indentations on the skin.
"Does your bra ever make red marks on your skin or cause irritations?"
"How long do you wear your bra each day on the average?"
"Do you wear a bra to sleep?"
So how do these survey results relate to the chance of developing breast cancer? The average white American woman wears her bra for more than 12 hours a day. From the survey results the authors have determined that, "The average white American woman is 19 times more likely to develop breast cancer than is a woman who wears a bra for less than twelve hours daily." Remember that some of these women claimed not to wear bras at all. In the sub-group of women who do wear bras, "women who wear bras for over twelve hours daily, but not to sleep, have a 21-fold greater chance of developing breast cancer than do women who remove their bras before twelve hours." 5
Remember that nearly 20% of the population wear a bra to bed, meaning the bra is constricting their breasts essentially 24 hours a day. The researchers write, "When we compare those women who wear their bras for less than twelve hours a day to those who wear them twenty-four hours a day, we see an enormous and extremely significant difference in breast cancer rates. Women who wear their bras all the time have a 113-fold increase in breast cancer incidence when compared with women who wear their bras less than twelve hours daily!"6
So how do these numbers relate to the real world? The risk of developing lung cancer by smoking cigarettes is about 10 to 30 times higher than for people who don't smoke. The risk of developing breast cancer by wearing a bra more than 12 hours a day is 21 times higher than for women who remove their bra before that 12 hours. Wearing a bra is equivalent to smoking cigarettes as a cancer risk!
What is the price of fashion? Are the fashion demands of western culture killing our women? Have women become addicted to this under garment? Smoking is for many a chemical addiction. Stopping can be physically challenging. Bra wearing is a psychological addiction, or hopefully, just a habit for you. You can reduce your cancer risk by dispensing with this one garment. By properly selecting your outer garments, no one but you will notice.
Dare to try this for just one week. Choose your outfits to be comfortable, bra-less, but not revealing. I know you will feel strange at first, but stick with it. See if any one notices. (They won't.) See if you don't feel much more comfortable at the end of the week. (You will.) And best of all, you will have the peace of mind that the toxins, attempting to do damage in your breasts are being naturally removed by a properly operating lymphatic system. You can't guarantee that breast cancer will never shatter your life. But you can reduce your risk, simply by changing your clothes!
1 Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer,
Dressed to Kill, (Avery Publishing Group, New York, 1995). ISBN
0-89529-664-0 Available from The Naturist Society, P.O. Box 132, Oshkosh, WI
Copyright 1996, Jeff Rockel, All Rights Reserved. Duplication permitted
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