Is It Unhealthy To Wear A Bra?
Benefits of a bra?
From early teens or just before, girls usually get their first bra. This has become an essential accessory as important as wearing knickers - so much so, it's almost a 'rite of passage' when a girl begins to wear a bra for the first time.
In addition, women tend to feel not properly dressed unless they are wearing a bra. However, is there any real health benefits from wearing one? Or is it a case of because women have worn the garment for so long, no one now questions whether we actually need a bra?
When going about my home I definitely find it more comfortable to go without a bra and I certainly couldn't sleep with one on. However, on going out to do errands, work or socially I always wear a bra. I feel more confident when outside and at work wearing a bra and wouldn't feel appropriately dressed if I went without.
Another important reason for wearing a bra or any form of lingerie is because of they way the look and how they make us feel. Today we have a large selection to chose from of beautiful lingerie.
However, lets see why wearing the bra has become so important to us and if there are more benefits to not wearing one.
- Did you know that according to bra fitting professionals, about 80% of women don't wear the proper size bra.
- The most expensive bras in the world are made by Victoria's Secrets. They are set with precious stones and cost at least a couple of million dollars to buy.
A brief history of the brassiere
For thousands of years women have used some form of garment to either enhance the feminine form or to make it less conspicuous. Depending on what one was used wasn't the choice of women, but depended on the times and what - in the Western world at least - the church had to say. Women then had to dress accordingly whether it was flattering or not, comfortable or not.
The first garment to resemble a bra was patented in 1859 by Henry Lesher, New York. This bra wasn't made for support, but to 'absorb perspiration' it also had inflatable pads to ensure that both breasts looked as if they were the same size. Naturally, the left breast in women, tends to be slightly larger than the right.
In 1907 the magazine 'Vogue' first used the word brassiere and in 1911 it was incorporated into the Oxford English Dictionary. By this time there were a few patents and prototypes for what would become the modern bra.
- About $16 billion dollars is spent around the world every year on bras alone.
- Statistics show that the average bust size over the last 15 to 20 years has increased. Previously 34B was the average now it is estimated at around 36C.
- At least 27% of women will not buy a garment they like simply because they don't have a suitable bra to go with it.
- The death nail for the horrific corset came about probably due to World War I. Because corsets used metal as part of its fixtures women were asked not to buy them. This allowed precious metals to be freed up to go towards the war effort. It has been estimated that the amount of metal saved by women giving up corsets would have allowed at least two battle ships to be built.
Health risks of wearing a bra?
According to some medical research that has been carried out recently, there could be health risks and unwanted side effects from wearing a bra. These health risks include a potential increase in the chances of getting breast cancer. However, this association with wearing bras and potential health risks is not new. In 1994, Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijerina, published the book "Dressed To Kill". The authors conclusions based on their findings was that there could be an increased risk of breast cancer when restricition of the breasts occur over a long period of time due to wearing a bra.
Overall, medical research seems to indicate that the constricting nature of bras interferes with the proper functioning of the lymph nodes which are the first defence against cancer cells. In addition, congestion in the lymph nodes leads to swelling, tenderness and the risk of toxins building up in the breasts and being able to filter out.
Research carried out by Professor Robert Mansel, Cardiff University Hospital, Wales and his colleague, Simon Cawthorn sample 100 premenopausal women and found that the sample who went withou a bra for a period of three months had significantly reduced breast pain. Regular breast pain has been linked in some cases to the development of breast cancer.
However, some cancer charities have criticised the British research. While the criticism is not unfounded in relation to the British research that had a small sample, there are other studies in addition to the British team and the book "Dressed To Kill", that may indeed show a link between breast cancer and wearing a bra. In addition, other forms of research such as medical anthropology studies published in 1995, revealed that women in cultures where bras are not worn had significantly reduced rates of breast cancer than women in socities where bras are worn regularly.
Reducing breast pain
It is interesting to note that www.naturallybrafree.com found that women who exercised gently on a mini trampoline - without a bra - found that this reduced the monthly swelling and tenderness in the breast area that many women suffer from. In addition, those women who suffered from fibrocystic breasts, found that this form of exercise also helped to reduce swelling and pain.
Fibrocystic breasts are not uncommon and are normal. It's estimated that at least half of all women experience some form of breast change in their life. Fibrocystic breasts tend to feel lumpy and can be very tender, painful and swollen especially around the outer and upper area of the breast. For most women this tends to happen just prior to her period starting.
What recent research seems to show is that women who do experience breast tenderness and pain due to fiborcystic breasts, can benefit from not wearing a bra.
Women with fuller figures
In addition ro the British research carried out on wearing bras, they also found that women with fuller figures also suffered less breast pain when reducing the amount of time they wore their bras. Their findings indicated that the size of the bust bears no relation to the pain a woman may experience.
Obviously if you are used to wearing a bra constantly and start to do vigorous exercise there is going to be initially pain and discomfort, but this eases off once the breasts start to build up the muscles and tendons.
Don't wear a bra?
Of course it's understandable why some women, especially if they have a large bust, want support. There's nothing wrong with this, what does seem to be indicated though is that wearing a bra continually does not prevent breasts from sagging and may in fact weaken the muscles through lack of proper movement.
Basically a bra is a sling that gives support, but may weaken muscles that have no work to do. However, in medical terms there is a lot of disagreement about whether a bra actually makes the breasts weaker or if a bra gives the breast support to ward off the effects of gravity.
Bras on or off?
Do you wear a bra all the time?
It really goes back to the same advice as for most things - everything in moderation. Therefore, where you feel - either psychologically or physically - you need to wear a bra, then wear it.
My own personal way is that I wear a bra when I go out socially and to work. However, when I want to be relaxed and super comfy then I don't wear one and this tends to be nearly all the time at home.
I'm 51 years of age now and never have worn a bra in bed and as yet, there are no signs that gravity is pulling my boobs towards my toes. So basically what I'm saying is, that women should choose for themselves what feels right for them both physically and psychologically.
Lastly, women are born with the genetic codes to begin to grow breasts when she reaches puberty. When we begin to develop, nature doesn't supply us with a ready made bra. Perhaps that's because Mother Nature knows we don't need one? Human beings are great inventors but that doesn't mean that all our inventions are improvements on nature - but at the end of the day, each woman has to make her own choice as to what is best for her.