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
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
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."
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.
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?"
Standard group: 23% always; Cancer group: 40% always.
The red marks are a clear indication that the lymphatic vessels are
being constricted just below the skin and unable to perform their job
of cleansing the breast tissue.
"How long do you wear your bra each day on the average?"
Standard group: 20% less than 12 hours daily, 80% more than 12 hours.
Cancer group: 1% less than 12 hours daily, 99% more than 12 hours.
"Do you wear a bra to sleep?"
Standard group: 3% yes; Cancer group, 18% yes.
One might expect that the longer the lymph vessels are constricted,
the longer the toxins will be in contact with the breast tissue and
hence the higher the likelihood of breast cancer.
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
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!