Tight Bras and Briefs -- Health Dangers

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March 7, 2009, last updated January 25, 2012
By Natalia Real, Contributing Columnist

I have a friend who only takes her bra off when getting into
the shower. When she’s out, she puts it back on and even
sleeps with it. Conversely, I loathe bras. I sometimes put
one on to go walk the dog or if I must meet a client.  
Otherwise, my girls live free!

Studies have proven that the less time breasts spend tightly
nestled in a bra, the healthier the woman who owns them
will be. Some studies, while we’re at it, also prove that tight
briefs are harmful to men’s health. Read on and prepare
yourself to get something off your chest (and, uh, nether

In 1991, researchers at Harvard published a paper in the
European Journal of Cancer, dealing with the link between
breast size, whether you are left or right handed
(handedness) and breast cancer risk. The connection
between wearing a bra and breast cancer was
not the focus
of their research. However, they noted that, of the women
in their study, those  who did not wear bras had half (50%)
the incidence of breast cancer of women who did wear bras.

The researchers were quick to downplay the connection
between bra-wearing and cancer, noting that it was entirely
possible that the lower cancer risk was caused by the fact
that women who don't wear bras tend to be thinner, and
thus have smaller breasts:
"Premenopausal women who do
not wear bras had half the risk of breast cancer compared
with bra users (P about 0.09), possibly because they are
thinner and likely to have smaller breasts
" .

This is terribly alarming. Obviously, cancer has many causes:
wearing a bra won’t give anyone cancer, but it might
exacerbate existing problems.

Many people assume breasts are fat-filled sacs (ever call
someone that?), but in fact, breasts also have copious
lymphatic tissue in them. The lymphatic system removes
wastes and toxins from the breasts (and the entire body).
Lymph flow must be free or else compressed tissues are
constrained instead of drained.

Women should watch for
fibrotic breast tissue, pain,
tenderness, cysts, and swelling—very common yet little
documented problems. (If you suffer from any of these
conditions, please visit your doctor.) Another result of
wearing tight bras is back pain.

Men can go through something similar: tight briefs are
thought to restrict the flow of lymphatic tissue in the
testicles, thereby impeding the area’s removal of wastes and
toxins. The effect could be a higher chance of acquiring
testicular cancer. Regardless, last year, ads featuring a buff
David Beckham wearing tight briefs sent briefs sales soaring.
Unwitting men everywhere wanted to keep their equipment
packed tight between their legs. It is worth knowing that
tight briefs push the testicles up against the body, increasing
their otherwise cool temperature, and thus lowering sperm
count. Men looking to pass on their genes should adhere to
boxers or shun underwear altogether. Also, men interested
in penis enlargement should abstain from tight underwear,
in this case because good penis blood flow is crucial for
enlargement purposes.

Overall, tight clothing—bras (underwire in particular), briefs,
ties, scarves, etc.—is unhealthy because it interferes with
natural functioning, whether it’s breathing, lymphatic flow,
blood flow, etc. Check your skin after removing a bra: do
you see red lines or indentations where the bra used to be?
Do your breasts feel compressed or tight? Are your

If so, your bra is definitely too tight, and you should replace
it with a comfortable one, even ask to get fitted. Spending
money on bras is investing in your health, so don’t hold
back here. (Read more about
causes of sore nipples.)

So who are these bra-less women and brief-less men?
Women and men who live in tribes, frequent nudist retreats
and beaches, hippies, and perhaps happy freelancers like
myself. Most women, however, “have” to wear bras—
especially in the office. Our Western ways keep coming back
to haunt us—but they don’t have to. Chuck those push-up
bras and tight briefs, I say! Defenestrate all your tight
garments and let your body flow, hang, and rest peacefully.
I’d say we should burn our bras (which, by the way,
actually wasn’t done by radical feminists during the second
wave of feminism) and briefs, but that wouldn’t be
environmentally responsible.

Find out more everyday tips on healthy living:  
Ankles-Causes and Cures  / Nights Cramps-Why Your Legs
Seize Up At Night/ More articles from this author

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