Curejoy Expert James Dudley Explains:
No, wearing an underwire bra does not increase your risk of breast cancer. If your bra is too tight or too small, the wires can dig into your breasts and cause discomfort, pain or swelling.
For years, some people have believed that wearing an underwire bra, or any bra for that matter, increased the risk of breast cancer. This belief stemmed from a study conducted in 1991 that found that premenopausal women who didn’t wear bras had a lower risk of breast cancer than women who did wear bras. However, the authors of the study reported that this link was likely due to related factors to wearing a bra, rather than the bra itself – women in the study who didn’t wear a bra were more likely to be lean, which accounted for their lower risk.
Being overweight increases a woman’s breast cancer risk – women who are overweight are more likely to have larger breasts and wear a bra. Women who don’t wear bras are more likely to be at a healthy weight. This difference in weight is possibly why this myth continues to circulate.
There has also been the specific myth circulating that wearing bras with underwire increased a woman’s risk of breast cancer due to the compression of the breast’s lymphatic system. The general medical consensus is that neither the type of bra nor the tightness of underwire has any connection to the risk of breast cancer.
In fact, new research that was published online by Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention that further confirmed that wearing a bra, no matter the fit or material, has no affect on a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
Currently, the only thing that scientists can say with certainty is that certain gene mutations can significantly increase the risk for breast cancer. Environmental factors have been linked to breast cancer prevalence, as well as hormone levels, but the research is preliminary, right now.