The fashion of women wearing bra has been pooh-poohed by health experts, who claimed that there is more health risks in the act than keeping the boobs fit. They said women wearing bras, especially the underwired type are more prone to having breasts cancer.
The moment Karen Orwell discovered the small raised lump high in her left armpit, a bolt of fear flashed through her.
You can’t blame her for assuming the worst, particularly as five of her friends were being treated for breast cancer.
Though hugely relieved when an ultrasound revealed something far less sinister, she was amazed when her consultant told her the cause of the problem: her penchant for underwired bras.
Experts are of the view that cancer of the boobs can be caused by the wire squeezing the flesh upwards, compressing the tissue and causing a blockage.
They say, nature did not design women’s breasts to be encased in wire and said I should stop wearing them.
According to women’s health expert Dr Priyanjalee Perera, bras – that wardrobe staple that almost every woman straps herself into every morning her entire adult life – can cause all sorts of problems, from muscle damage and headaches to aggravating or even causing serious skin conditions.
In fact, there is a strong argument for women ditching the bra altogether, especially now there’s convincing evidence that not wearing one doesn’t make your breasts droop after all!
Three years ago, French university professor Jean-Denis Rouillon, who had monitored 300 women aged between 18 and 35 over 15 years, concluded that bras are a ‘false necessity’.
Those avoiding bras developed more muscle tissue in their bust, which provided natural support – while the restrictive nature of bra fabric seemed to prevent such tissue from growing, possibly accelerating sagging rather than preventing it.
Dr Perera says bras can lead to a host of problems, as they can put pressure on your trapezius (the large, triangular-shaped muscles that cover most of the back and the posterior of the neck), causing tension and stiffness.
‘This can leave you with pain in your neck and shoulders, and lead to headaches,’ she says.
‘Underwired bras can be particular culprits, as the wires below the bust dig into the ribs, causing muscle spasm and pain.’
Dr Perera says bras can lead to a host of problems, as they can put pressure on your trapezius, causing tension and stiffness
Sadly for Karen, who’s married to Ian, 54, a business analyst, and has two daughters, Aimee, 23, and Sian, 17, going bra-less is simply unthinkable.
After 70 years of indoctrination, society has come to see the natural, untethered female form as slothenly and uncouth, and it would take a brave woman to lead the bra-less revolution.
Also, women have become used to the feeling of being supported, and most women, even small-breasted ones, find going natural strange and uncomfortable.
But the scare has made bra shopping a very serious business for Karen, requiring lots of costly experimentation.
Thankfully, she didn’t require surgery to remove the lump – simply avoiding underwiring was been enough to see it deflate – but she is aware that the wrong bra choice and fit could see it return.