The claim that bra-wearing can put women at serious risk for breast cancer has been around for almost 20 years. Does this idea hold any truth? Dr. Laura Hutchins, a UAMS medical oncologist who specializes in breast cancer, says that there is not enough evidence to support this idea.
According to a Scientific American article this myth began with the publication of a book in the mid-90s, that claimed that women who wear tight-fitting bras with underwire have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than those who do not. The authors suggest that bras can compress the lymphatic system of the breast, causing toxins to become trapped in the breast tissue to cause cancer.
The overall consensus among doctors is that neither the type of bra worn nor the tightness of undergarments has any connection to the risk of breast cancer.
Dr. Hutchins also commented that the belief that physical trauma to the breast, such as being hit or kicked, can also cause cancer.
“Patients sometimes report previous trauma in the area of the breast where cancer develops at a later date,” she says. “So far, as can be determined, these occurrences are coincidental.”