Bra wearing and breast cancer


Victoria Beckham has been criticized by US weekly for her penchant to let her breasts “hang free” and not put on a brassiere while in public.  In an open letter on their website addressed to Victoria, the editors wrote this:

“You’re a woman with perky breasts that apparently like to breathe. But keep shunning that bra and in five years you’ll end up with pendulums.”

Maybe there is nothing posh about Victoria Beckham’s braless state but she might have a good reason for shunning them.  Maybe she read the book Dressed to Kill by Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer and she was only trying to protect her mammaries.

I haven’t read the book but the essence of it is that by constricting the lymphatic system, an internal network of vessels that flush wastes from the body, a bra causes toxins to accumulate in the tissues of the breasts, creating an environment ripe for developing breast cancer.

Singer and Grismaijer have collected striking (but preliminary) evidence that bra-wearing may be a major risk factor associated with breast cancer: women who wear tight-fitting bras 24 hours a day are 125 times more likely to have breast cancer than women who do not wear bras at all. Their interpretation is that tight clothing inhibits the proper functioning of the lymphatic system (an internal network of vessels and nodes that flushes wastes from the body) and leads to a buildup of carcinogenic compounds in the constricted areas. 

The book has apparently caused a lot of controversies about the correlative factors of bra wearing and breast cancer, with many dismissing it as being speculative or skewed.   This is understandable.  Afterall, the study wasn’t published in a medical journal.

But substantiated or not, I believe many findings covered in the book are interesting and noteworthy for us women.  In fact some of the points are really common sense. 

Namely, that we should avoid wearing tight fitting bras, especially those that leave red marks on our bodies.  That we shouldn’t be wearing bras 24 hours in a day and we ought to let them “hang free” at some point, as well as that we should be aware that bras can add additional constriction in pre-menopausal women because breasts swell during menstruation.

Personally I don’t like to wear bras with underwire.  I use those only when I’m out.  At home, I use those without.  And when I sleep, I go braless.  Let’s say my breasts need a break too.

So I suppose Victoria Beckham can continue going braless, but perhaps in the confines of her own home.  And yes, I do agree that with the editors that she should really consider keeping those boobs uplifted.  I mean, giant pendulums don’t flatter any woman.  Definitely not posh at all.


  1. Bobbie says:

    Sorry about the gap in the account of breast sagging research. “Conducted at” goes to “The only study…” not to “Playtex.”

  2. sesame says:

    Hey, thanks for sharing this info! I’ll be happy not to wear bra. I do that all the time at home. But one question, do you think it’s better to exercise with bra or without bra? I came across some info suggestion without but I wonder if it’ll cause saggng.

  3. Bobbie says:

    John Dixey is the former chief executive of Sara Lee Intimates, UK, parent company of Playtex and Wonderbra.

  4. Bobbie says:

    The insult “loose woman” came from the corset era. Women who did not wear, for whatever reason, typically poverty, a corset were called “loose,” inferring loose morals. The poor have through the ages been looked down on as being poor due to low morals. . If you are rich it must be that God loves you?

    Prostitutes, most of whom were poor or they wouldn’t have been prostituting, commonly did not wear “stays” (corsets) so the association of loose clothing and loose morals stuck. It was also a mark of low morals for a woman to wear underpants, as actresses, dancers and … prostitutes, all considered women of low morals, were the introducers of women’s underpants. So no matter what a woman does, someone is going to accuse her of wrongdoing. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t., 11-19.htm . Can’t please everyone all the time.

  5. Bobbie says:

    It won’t cause sagging (actually the opposite) but if you’ve been wearing a bra all day every day for years you probably won’t want to go without during vigorous activity, at least not for a while.
    As far as pain and discomfort, we are all accustomed to some pain and discomfort during vigorous activity. It doesn’t feel good to come down hard after going up for a basket, volleyball spike, etc. But we don’t generally notice as we are used to it and are concentrating on the activity unless it is to an extreme, like coming down on a stone, twisting the ankle, etc.
    Women of “quality” used to go to “finishing” school to learn how to walk and use stairs smoothly without jouncing, among other skills. Stylish corsets were open-topped, so any jouncing set the breasts jiggling on top like balloons full of jello. Learn to walk smoothly and you can go braless or minimally bra’ed except perhaps during exercise and running, without bouncing and swaying.
    Exercising, if it causes weight loss, may reduce the fat in your breasts. As most of the “filling” of the breast envelope is fat, loss of fat will “deflate” the breasts, making them appear to sag, especially if you’ve been overweight and the skin of your breasts has stretched.
    If you will watch you will see that most women today aren’t like plaster mannequins when they move. A lot more breast movement than was socially acceptable years ago.

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