Are Bras Good For You?

October 21st 2015

Mackensie Graham

Regardless of the love-hate relationship we women have with bras, there is actually some science to consider before getting dressed.

A French study conducted by Professor Jean-Denis Rouillon featured 15 years of research conducted with 330 women ages 18 to 35. Breasts were measured over the years and the results found that women who chose not to wear a bra had a seven-millimeter natural breast lift over women who wear a bra regularly. Breasts were also firmer and had more faded stretch marks when not usually worn in a bra.

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Lingerie model smoking in an office

There are a multitude of reasons why women believe they should wear bras that go way beyond appearance, such as improved posture and reduced back pain. The study however stated there was no evidence that bras aided in reducing back pain when worn by women from a young age.

Researchers also suggested that wearing a bra prevents breast tissue growth which can lead to the the breakdown of the muscles that naturally support the breasts. Why? The findings suggest that the internal suspensory ligaments are worked more without a bra to constrain, hold, and lift. Not wearing a bra can equate to increased elasticity and collagen production, which improves lift in a developing breast. The study also supported the notion that bras hamper circulation and reduce breast tone (read: sagging) over the years; basically, gravity is a friend of boobs.

Don't read this research as rule however. Rouillon was careful not to extrapolate findings to all women. Because the study was capped at women age 35 and younger it wouldn’t be wise to assume the benefits of not wearing a bra to middle-aged women. If a woman has worn a bra consistently for a long time, the reported benefits in the study may not be applicable.

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Cancer myths

So, bras don't help with sagging, but they also do not cause cancer. It's been rumored since the Dressed to Kill was published in 1995 claiming that women who wore tight fitting, underwire bras were more likely to develop breast cancer than women who did not wear a brassiere. The thought was that the bra trapped compressed lymphatic system drainage in the breast tissue, leading to the development of cancer. Despite the continuation of the rumor there is not enough evidence to support the study.

Defying gravity

Then there is the myth that sleeping in a bra will somehow better hold breasts in place to defy sagging. However, swearing off sag isn't that easy. There's not enough evidence either way to say that wearing a bra to bed is good or bad. The bad: sleeping in an ill-fitting, underwire bra can be painful, impact ability to sleep soundly, and cause cysts. The good: wearing a bra to bed doesn't cause cancer and nightly bra-wearing may reduce the likelihood of stretch marks if breasts are bigger than an average B-C. If you really want to tuck the ladies in at night, rock a breathable, stretchy bra (like a sports bra).

Sizing up

Like anything related to your body, bras are not completely unrelated to your physical health. For starters, synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon, rayon and spandex aren't the most breathable. Bras then become weapons for trapping bacteria from sweat and oils that can lead to body acne and rashes.

Women with larger breasts may have more physical reasons to take into account for wearing a bra, such as the back and spinal strain compensating for the weight in the front. Bras in this case can help lift the breast in and up so the upper body is more comfortable and naturally postured.

For women of all cup sizes, it is important to select a bra with the proper fit. A poorly fitting bra can lead to hunched posture, as well as shoulder and neck pain. Just as shoe sizes differ between brands, bra sizes differ between brands. In order to make sure a bra is right for you, you can get measured and fitted at each store.

Curvier women should also invest in a daily wear bra that is actually supportive. The sexiest bras tend to be the least supportive, pushing tissue outside of the cup area (push-up style) and with thin straps that cut into the shoulders. The ideal brassiere would be one with all tissue within the cup, wide, supportive straps, and the gore (central panel between the cups) should lie flat on the chest.

Hookless Alternatives

Freeing from hooks, straps and readjusting is great, but sometimes it does feel more comfortable to have a less coverage to prevent any accidental nip slips. Luckily there’s a rack of alternatives from petite pasties, to cups you can sew into certain dresses and blouses, or rock a body suit even as a shirt.






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