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Hutchinson Study - Smith by Ken L. Smith   January 14, 2015

Hutchinson Study Is A False Report

A study was completed and published in 2014 by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington that was titled: “Bra wearing not associated with breast cancer risk: a population based case-control study “.

I have written a synopsis of the report and added comments. If you would like to read the full text of the study for yourself, and make your own decision about what they actually discovered before reading my opinion, highlight the URL iinside the box below, copy it, paste it into Google and search.  

Bras and breast cancer CEBP_14_0414_Chen_Bras.pdf

 In this article:       Black text is quoted from the study. Blue text is my synopsis of the study. Red text is my comments.

If you were to study 500 women that walk through a field of poison ivy and they all get a rash, and then you study another 500 women that walk through the field of poison ivy and they do not get a rash, can you say that walking through the field has no influence on whether the women will get a rash or not?

If you were to study 500 women that wear bras and have been diagnosed with breast cancer, and then you study another 500 women that wear bras and they have not been diagnosed with breast cancer, can you say that wearing a bra has no influence on whether a woman will get breast cancer?

That is essentially what this 2014 Hutchinson Cancer Research Center study has concluded.

The authors are Lu Chen, Kathleen E. Malone, and Christopher I. Li. The study was funded by a grant from the National Cancer Institute.

Their Abstract states: “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. The goal of the study was to evaluate the relationship between various bra wearing habits and breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women.

If I were to do a study and in my abstract I mention “…concerns… that bra wearing may increase breast cancer risk…” I would probably compare results of women wearing bras against results of women not wearing bras.

Their goal states that they are evaluating the relationship between “…various bra wearing habits and breast cancer risk “ so that indicates they will monitor different types of bras? Or somehow some women wear them differently? Are they suggesting wearing bras for different lengths of time might make a difference in getting breast cancer? Why did they not report that? ALL women that they studied wore bras… none of them were what I refer to as bra-free.

They studied a group of 1059 postmenopausal patients who regularly wear a bra. There were 454 that had Invasive Ductal Carcinoma breast cancer (IDC) and 590 that had Invasive Lobular Carcinoma breast cancer (ILC), and they all were first diagnosed between 1/1/00 and 3/31/04. They also studied 469 women between 55 and 74 years of age that also regularly wear a bra but have not had breast cancer. No women that regularly do not wear a bra were considered in the study.

The women were asked to provide personal data including their age they first wore a bra, their Body Mass Index (BMI) at age 30 and also one month prior to their diagnosis, bra cup-size at 18 and one year before diagnosis (do you remember your BMI or bra size at 30?) , whether they ever wore underwired bras, how many hours and how many days a week they usually wore a bra, reproductive history, body size, medical history, family history of cancer, use of hormonal replacement therapy, types of menopause, mammogram screening in the past two years, race/ethnicity, and other potential breast cancer risk factors.

When someone that is not used to reading test results sees this many variables in a study, they may be impressed, but just how many of these variables have any influence over whether wearing a bra or not wearing a bra influences breast cancer? It appears to me that by adding all of these variables, it sounds like a very comprehensive study, which impresses the reader of the study, but does this data help to discover the answer to the question posed and the reason for this study?

A comprehensive study of breast health should include all of the variables that can possibly be tested, but if you want to know if a bra affects a woman’s breasts, should the bra… the closest thing to her breasts for a large portion of her life… not be one very important variable that should also be studied? In this study, all women wore bras. Women that have made the decision to no longer wear the bra were not considered for this study. If the bra actually is very influential in causing breast cancer, the most influential variable has been totally left out of the study, and the bra will never be seen as a cause of breast cancer. Or could that have been the intent of this study?

For instance:

...If you want to determine why a woman has trouble with her feet, would the most logical thing that comes to mind be to ask what she places her feet into for a large portion of her waking life? Her shoes?

...If you want to determine why a woman has itchy, irritated legs, would the most logical thing that comes to mind be to ask what she places her legs into every day that she goes to work? Her hosiery?

·         ...If a woman has problems with her breasts, would the most logical thing that comes to mind be to ask what she places her breasts in… all day long… day after day? Her bra?

If all of the data from all of those variables was collected from women that always wear bras, and the same data was collected from women that never wear bras, the findings of each group could easily be compared, and it could easily be determined if the bra was a significant influence in those that ended up with breast cancer. If everything else was equal, and the only variable was the bra, and those wearing the bra had a higher rate of breast cancer, would that not be the answer?  

Their conclusion from their study was: “Our results did not support an association between bra wearing and increased breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women. Why were only postmenopausal women monitored? I suspect that if they studied women of all ages, as long as they all were regular bra-users, they would not have found any different results. Since they only studied women that wear bras, how would they ever know if not wearing a bra resulted in fewer cases of breast cancer? There is no way that they could learn the truth if they only did the study the way they did it. I have to assume that finding the real truth was not their goal.

They acknowledge the popular suggestion that wearing a bra can constrict lymphatic fluid circulation in the breasts, allowing toxins to build up and increase the risk of developing breast cancer, but they do not recognize any of the studies done already in this area as being credible studies. They dismiss the 1991 Harvard study that showed that premenopausal women who do not wear bras had half the risk of breast cancer compared with bra users as “nonstatistically significant”. They indicated “… no elevation in risk was observed for postmenopausal women”, even though they did not evaluate anyone that was bra-free for any period of time. “There was one participant who reported that she never wore a bra and she was excluded from the analysis. “ It was not indicated if she was a cancer patient or one of the women used as a “control” without cancer. “ There were seven women who did not currently wear a bra and they were included in our lifetime bra wearing analyses but excluded from the analyses of current bra wearing habits. “These women were also not identified as being cancer free or being patients. Why are they counted toward one part of the study but not counted for the other part?

If the Harvard study showed that premenopausal women that wear bras have twice as many cases of breast cancer as those that do not wear bras, why would the Hutchinson study not see if the same is true of postmenopausal women? Would that not show them whether wearing a bra after menopause as well has anything to do with a woman being diagnosed with breast cancer?

Halfway through their study they state “The study was originally designed to evaluate differences in risk factors for the two most common histologic subtypes of breast cancer, invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) and invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC).

I thought earlier they said: “The goal of the study was to evaluate the relationship between various bra wearing habits and breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women.” Did they change the intent of the study? If they did, which was the first goal and which was the new goal? This second “intended design” mentioned nothing about a bra. So what were they actually studying? The title of the press release… the lead line of their public media release… states that their conclusion is: “Bra wearing not associated with breast cancer risk…. How can a bra’s influence over breast cancer be listed as the conclusion to a study about ‘Differences In Risk Factors For The Two Most Common Histologic Subtypes of Breast Cancer IDC and ILC’?

In their Discussion area, they state: “ …we were unable to compare risks among women who never wore a bra to those who regularly wore a bra, And why was that? They state that they interviewed eight women that did not wear bras, but they did not elect to add their data to their study. They easily could have found more women that have elected not to wear bras. I hear about more women making that decision quite regularly. It appears that those doing the Hutchinson study were not interested in learning what the women that don’t wear bras have discovered.

Five studies have been done that show that wearing bras increase the chance of a woman getting breast cancer. No studies have been done that show that to not be true. The Hutchinson study did not study women that do not wear a bra. They only studied women that wear bras.

I submit that their study does not in fact support their stated conclusion. In my opinion, the Hutchinson study that makes the claim that “Bra wearing not associated with breast cancer risk: a population based case-control study is false and is designed only to confuse the public and prevent women from learning the truth about the health effects of wearing a bra.