Does Wearing A Bra Cause Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer remains to be the most pervasive type of cancer affecting women of different races. In terms of death, it is the second leading cause of cancer-related mortality, next to lung cancer. Because breast CA is such a dreaded disease among the women populace, women try to find the reason for developing it to avoid an ill fate. One of the more persistent suspicions women have is that wearing a bra can cause breast cancer. But is it a myth or a fact? Does wearing a bra cause breast cancer? We’ll find out by quoting devote experts in cancer research.
Predisposing Factors of Breast Cancer
Predisposing factors to any disease are those that put a person in a condition of possibly acquiring the ailment. These factors are usually non-modifiable, and the person has very little control over it. Predisposing factors to breast cancer, according to the Center for Disease Control are as follows:
- Increasing Age. When a woman hits the age of 50, cancer risk becomes higher.
- Genetic changes. Mutations to two genes known as BRCA1 and BRCA2 put a woman who has them at increased threat for developing breast cancer.
- Prolonged exposure to hormones. Early-onset of puberty prior to reaching 12 years old, and menopausal past the age of 55 leads to prolonged exposure to hormones that are allegedly linked to a higher possibility of acquiring breast cancer.
- Dense breast tissues. Having dense breasts make tumor-imaging challenging during mammogram sessions. Hence, they're usually diagnosed late.
- Previous breast cancer experience or having benign breast conditions. Breast cancer survivors have a high chance of experiencing a relapse. It was also revealed that somehow, benign breast conditions closely connects women to an elevated chance of picking breast CA.
- Family history. Women with close kin who developed the disease will also have an increased risk of getting it.
- Exposure to radiation. Exposure to radiation at higher levels for women who underwent radiation therapy to the chest or breasts before reaching 30 years old is likely to get breast cancer during adulthood.
- Medication history of diethylstilbestrol (DES). This medicine was given to a number of conceiving women in the middle years of the 19th century as prevention to miscarriage or spontaneous abortion. Later, DES was found to be carcinogenic.
Precipitating Factors of Breast Cancer
On the other hand, precipitating factors are trigger events to developing any ailments. But, unlike predisposing factors, precipitating causes are modifiable. So, does wearing a bra cause breast cancer? If it does, it belongs to this set of factors. Let’s get to know the modifiable risks for breast CA as listed down by the Centers for Disease Control.
- Sedentary lifestyle. Many diseases are borne from physical inactivity, and breast CA is one.
- Obesity and menopausal. Increasing age combined with obesity is a double whammy to a woman's health, and these two also pose a threat of developing breast CA.
- Intake of Hormones. Prolonged intake of hormones taken during replacement therapy, such as the estrogen and progesterone-containing medication given to women in their post-menopausal stages, poses breast cancer threats as a side effect. Even oral contraceptives were also later linked to developing this dreaded disease.
- Reproductive factors. Getting pregnant with your eldest baby past 30 years old and the absence of breastfeeding history and full-term pregnancies are all contributory factors to breast CA.
- Other factors. Studies link alcohol intake, smoking, exposure to cancer-causing agents, and hormonal changes due to working night shift to a woman’s increased risk for breast cancer.
It is noteworthy that nothing from the CDC's list of risk factors for breast cancer mentions wearing a bra. So, does wearing a bra cause breast cancer? The CDC being silent on the matter does not confirm nor deny the claim. It may only be that no evidence yet exists to back the claim.
Dispelling Myths about Breast Cancer and Bra
That wearing a bra causes cancer isn't the only rumored myth about the causes of breast CA. The following are some other misconceptions about the causes of breast CA and the truth behind the claims.
Rumor: Underwire bra prevents the proper flow of lymphatic fluids, which results in a buildup of toxin and, eventually, cancer.
Truth: According to the American Cancer Society, there is no evidence to support such a claim. Further, lymph fluids circulate toward the armpit, not towards the underwire.
Rumor: More cases of breast cancer were noted from underwire bra-wearing women.
Truth: Women who are heavier, or are obese, prefer to use underwire bra for better support. Obesity, or the heavyweight, is the precipitating factor and not the use of an underwire.
Rumor: Fewer cases were noted among women who do not wear a bra.
Truth: So, does wearing a bra cause breast cancer? Bra-wearing is a lesser need among women from some developing countries. In less developed countries, their lack of access to medical care hinders the diagnosis of breast cancer among their populace, not the absence of the disease.
According to experts, the hearsays regarding the causes of breast CA stem from women’s desire to pin the blame to modifiable behaviors to gain some control over the disease. But doing so only causes more harm than good, as, without evidence, women could only be going further from the truth on breast cancer risks. Which, in the end, will only lead to complacency and missing seeking early appropriate diagnostic procedures.
A research study conducted in 2014 finally rests the doubts surrounding the question: Does wearing a bra cause breast cancer? In a study of 1000 breast cancer patients and 500 healthy women, no correlation was established between wearing a bra and breast cancer. And until such clear evidence is revealed, this claim will remain controversial, with some women continuing to believe and practice caution when wearing a bra.
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