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Expert Talk: Busting the Myth That Underwired Bras Cause Breast Cancer – 15 Risk Factors & Unhealthy Habits That May Cause It


Underwire bras are not only uncomfortable but also surrounded by the myth that it increases your risk of breast cancer. The idea became a discussion during the 90’s and was fueled by books like Dressed To Kill by Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer, where it was claimed that women who wear underwired bras have a much higher risk of breast cancer as these bras can affect the normal functioning of the lymph system, which results in building up the toxins in breasts. So relevant is the subject that there is a separate day designated to the cause to spread awareness about it. As a result, 7th November of every year is commemorated as the National Cancer Awareness Day.

In collaboration with The Channel 46, Dr Madhushree Vijayakumar, Consultant – Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, busts the myth that underwired bras cause cancer and shares some risk factors and unhealthy habits that may actually result in the health condition.

Recognising The The Myth That Underwire Bras Cause Breast Cancer

…there is also not enough evidence that says going braless can decrease one’s risk of developing breast cancer.

Nobody ever found enough evidence to back this claim. It is not proven that compression of lymph nodes by bras can cause breast cancer. At the same time, there is also not enough evidence that says going braless can decrease one’s risk of developing breast cancer. But if breast cancer is your concern, there are many other factors that are to be kept in mind to decrease your chances. Bras may not have much to do with increasing your risk, but you need to know everything else that can. To reduce the risk of breast cancer, you need in-depth knowledge of this condition and what causes it.

8 Risk Factors Associated With Breast Cancer 

1. Gender

Most cases of breast cancer are found in women. Women have approximately 12.1% chances of developing breast cancer during their lifetime. 


2. Age

Most cases of breast cancer happen with older women. Around 65% percent of such cases are of women aged above 55 years. 

3. Heredity

In some rare cases, inherited gene mutations like BRCA1 and BRCA2 cause breast cancer. However, these only account for a small fraction of overall cases of breast cancer. Also, having someone in your family diagnosed with breast cancer increases your chances of having it. 

4. Early Menstruation & Late Menopause

Starting menstruation before the age of 12 or having delayed menopause (after the age of 55) increases risk of breast cancer as these conditions are associated with the improper functioning of reproductive hormones.

5. Pregnancy

Women who have late pregnancy or decide not to have children are at higher risk of developing the condition while women who carry pregnancy and breastfeeding at an appropriate reproductive age are at lower risk. 


6. Hormonal Pills

Women who take hormonal pills are at an increased risk of breast cancer. 

7. Physical Inactivity Or Obesity

Being inactive or obese increases the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. 

8. Alcohol Consumption

Women who consume alcohol have a 21% higher risk of developing breast cancer.

6 Unhealthy Habits To Avoid The Risk Of Developing Breast Cancer 

It’s never a bad time to refocus on your health and make necessary changes in your lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle has a number of benefits associated with your physical, mental and emotional well-being. It’s a good decision to choose your health above all. Here are 6 healthy lifestyle changes to make for decreasing the risk of breast cancer:


1. Maintain A Healthy Weight

As an adult, being overweight comes up with a lot of consequences and the increased risk of breast cancer is one of them. It is because of the fat cells that will be responsible for the extra estrogen production in your body and more estrogen levels are more likely to increase the risk of breast cancer. 

2. Be Physically Active

Women who physically have a relatively lower risk of breast cancer. You don’t have to indulge in a heavy exercise routine, you can always start with a 30 minute walk or jogging. 

3. Eat Healthy

It has been proven that eating fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of some types of breast cancers. Adding stuff that is high in carotenoids would be beneficial. You can try adding melons, carrots, sweet potatoes and squash in your daily diet. Carotenoid levels have shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer.

4. Quit Smoking

Don’t get us started with all the harm it causes to your health. The smoke of tobacco has almost 250 harmful chemicals in it out of which 69 chemicals have been proven to cause cancer. 


5. Limit Your Alcohol Consumption

Women who drink 2-3 alcoholic drinks a day have 20% increased risk of breast cancer than women who don’t drink. 

6. Breastfeeding

Try to breastfeed if you can as it has many positive impacts on a woman’s body throughout their life which also includes decreasing the risk of breast cancer, Type 2 diabetes and ovarian cancer.

If you are considering going for treatments like Menopausal hormone therapy to relive the symptoms of menopause or are taking estrogen plus progestin to do it, you may increase the risk of breast cancer. This risk in women starts to decline after they stop with MHT. If you are considering going for it, make sure to learn about it enough from a verified consultant.

If you are worried about developing breast cancer and have seen any of such symptoms in your body, do not think twice before asking for medical consultation. It is a serious condition but still curable if it gets diagnosed in the early stages. Going braless may not decrease your risk of developing breast cancer but a few lifestyle changes can.


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