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Scientists Discover Whether Bras Boost Breast Cancer Rates

Update Date: Sep 05, 2014 05:59 PM EDT

Wearing bras will not increase the risk of breast cancer, according to a new study.

Researchers found no link between bra wearing and increased breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women.

"There have been some concerns that one of the reasons why breast cancer may be more common in developed countries compared with developing countries is differences in bra-wearing patterns," Lu Chen, MPH, a researcher in the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and a doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Public Health, said in a news release. "Given how common bra wearing is, we thought this was an important question to address," she added.

"Our study found no evidence that wearing a bra increases a woman's risk for breast cancer. The risk was similar no matter how many hours per day women wore a bra, whether they wore a bra with an underwire, or at what age they first began wearing a bra," said Chen.

"There has been some suggestion in the lay media that bra wearing may be a risk factor for breast cancer. Some have hypothesized that drainage of waste products in and around the breast may be hampered by bra wearing. Given very limited biological evidence supporting such a link between bra wearing and breast cancer risk, our results were not surprising," Chen added.

The latest study involved 454 women with invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) and 590 women with invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC). Researchers said that the cancers observed in this study are the two most common subtypes of breast cancer. There were also 469 women who served as controls. All participants were postmenopausal and between the ages of 55 and 74.

"The findings provide reassurance to women that wearing a bra does not appear to increase the risk for the most common histological types of postmenopausal breast cancer," researchers concluded.

The findings are published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

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