By Theresa Harding
While an estimated 90 percent of North American women wear a bra every day, have you ever wondered if they’re really necessary? And if so, does the type of bra you wear matter to your health?
Wearing a bra is said to help prevent sagging, improve posture, reduce back pain, and maintain healthy breast tissue. But according to history, bras were created for fashion, not function. Wealthy women in the 14th century primarily wore corsets to help elevate, reveal, and enhance the appearance of their breasts. And as fashion evolved, so did bra-like garments, like the push-up bra and the strapless bra.
While bras are still worn for aesthetic purposes, they’re also said to be mandatory for maintaining and supporting a healthy bosom.
But some researchers suggest that wearing a bra isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, according to a study done in France (called the “marathon experiment”), the trusty brassiere could be a false necessity: It does more harm than good.
While there are non-beneficial—effects of bras, there’s still a lack of evidence that wearing a bra is guaranteed to damage your lady lumps, such as promoting breast cysts. As long as they’re properly fitted, bras can still prevent discomfort from movement and back pain, especially in bustier women. Some women even find that wearing a bra is more comfortable than going braless. Even if just the strapless bra is considered.
According to Lu Chen, MPH, a researcher in the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, “women don’t need to remove their bras to improve breast health”. They can continue to wear the push-up bra or the strapless bra, without worrying about causing the growth of breast cysts. A lot of researchers have also discredited concerns floating around the press that the supportive undergarment was linked to breast cancer.
So if wearing a push-up bra, strapless bra, or even a backless bra helps you feel supported and gives you the lift and look you desire, the choice is yours: Wear a bra or don’t. Just don’t fear the thought of promoting breast cysts or any other related issues from wearing them. Luckily, there are ways you can promote better breast health when choosing a bra.
Since your body naturally changes as you age, your bra size can also fluctuate. For this reason, it’s important to get measured each year—or any time your bra feels like a nuisance.
Between soft cups, sports bras, wireless, bandeaus, full cups, and push-ups, choosing a bra can be difficult. But the best bra style for you will depend mostly on your cup size.
Lingerie experts recommend bras with minimal support for a smaller bust, such as bandeaus or wireless bras. That’s because additional underwiring and padding may be uncomfortable, dig into your skin, and look bumpy under clothing. Larger busts can benefit from the extra coverage of full- cup bras, which keep breasts in place and prevent wardrobe malfunctions. The best way to find out which bra styles are right for your bust is by consulting with a bra-fitting specialist at a lingerie store.
While some women swear that wearing a bra to bed maintains shape, it may also promote swelling, cause a build-up of fluid, and prevent natural detoxification—by restricting blood flow and lymphatic drainage.
Since there’s no proof that bedtime brassiere-wearing can save you from the droop, it’s best to err on the side of caution: Avoid the potential health risks of wearing a bra to bed.
While there’s no harm in occasionally swapping your regular intimates for seductive lingerie, it’s important to ensure that you prioritize sensibility over sexiness. Even if it’s not the sexiest-looking garment, a properly fitted, the comfortable bra can be life-changing when it comes to feeling cozy and relaxed every day.
What is your experience with Bras? Do you see any type as risky to your health?
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Healthy Living isn't difficult. It requires an ongoing lifestyle change with patience and an open mind. I teach this mindset all the time. After 11 years of transitioning from an unhealthy lifestyle to a pain-free one, I think it's important to share my knowledge and research with those who are ready to make that shift in their health and wellness.