Bra or Nah?
Depending on who you ask, bras could be described as a contraption devised by the patriarchy to keep women, and their boobs, looking sexually attractive. Or maybe they're a benign, practical solution to provide comfort and support, especially for the well-endowed.
Regardless of your personal feelings about over-the-shoulder boulder holders, you've probably heard at least a few claims regarding their potential effects on long-term health and appearance, leaving you to wonder: Are bras bad for you? The short answer is: not really. But they may not be doing you many favors either.
Bras and breast cancer
One grievous myth about bras is they cause breast cancer. They do not.
Though the myth may have originated even before, authors Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer added fuel to the fire in their 1995 book "Dressed to Kill." In the book, the authors claim women who regularly wear underwire bras are more likely to develop breast cancer than their braless peers.
Ross Singer and Grismaijer's book argues that bras compress lymph nodes, which the authors claim impedes lymphatic drainage, in which toxins and waste exit the body, resulting in an accumulation of toxins in the blood, thus increasing the risk of cancer.
The American Cancer Society says this line of thinking is false, as fluids don't travel toward the underside of the breast. Rather, they move into the lymph nodes of the underarm. Additionally, research indicates women who let the girls hang loose are not less likely to get breast cancer than those who keep them under wraps.
Wearing a bra to bed
Given she is the pinnacle of graceful aging, it's understandable we'd trust Halle Berry on matters of over-40 beauty. However, science contests the star's claim about wearing a bra to bed being the ticket to perky boobs for life.
Night hours is the time you should almost certainly give the girls a rest. A small 2000 study published in The Journal of Biological and Medical Rhythm Research indicated that wearing a bra at night could negatively affect your sleep quality. Specifically, the researchers observed wearing a tight-fitting garment could increase core body temperature and decrease melatonin, disrupting the sleep-wake cycle.
Night hours is the time you should almost certainly give the girls a rest.
The study was short and limited, so more research is needed to affirm its findings. That said, even if we can't say for sure or to what extent bras affect sleep, there is no scientific evidence that wearing them to bed is beneficial.
Wearing a bra during the day
Experts have mixed opinions on whether wearing a bra regularly during the day is or isn't conducive to long-term boob perkiness.
Some argue the artificial support weakens chest muscles, which could promote sagging.
However, most agree that for well-endowed women especially, the benefits most likely outweigh the risks, at least when it comes to preserving a youthful perk. Gravity and movement can wear out the breast tissues, making them more prone to droopiness. Nearly all boob gurus advise even the small-chested among us to wear a sports bra for exercise for the same reason.
Back and shoulder pain
Many bosom-blessed women wear bras to enhance comfort and reduce back pain. But a too-tight bra can create what surgeons have coined the "bra strap defect." This permanent indent in the shoulder's soft tissue occurs when the breasts' weight pulls down on the bra strap due to a lack of support. Obviously, no one wants this, further proving ill-fitting bras are the actual worst.
To bra or not to bra?
Generally, bras (at least properly fitting ones) don't have a significant impact on long-term health. They may, however, affect your girls' appearance over time. Ultimately, the decision to secure your breasts comes down to personal preference. Just be sure, if you do wear bras, to invest in ones that provide solid support.