Culture defines each and every one of us. We become desensitized to the existence of cultural effects due to constant exposure through our environment and conformity pressures around us. Our daily habits and normalcy standards could be causing us to overlook negative impacts on health. Women are the largest section of the human population, yet remain in most instances under the hegemonic control of men. “Every woman has a militant responsibility to involve herself actively with her own health. We owe ourselves the protection of all the information we can acquire about the treatment of cancer and its causes, as well as about the recent findings concerning immunology, nutrition, environment, and stress. And we owe ourselves this information before we may have reason to use it,” (CancerJournals 75).
The King of Spain in the 14th century smoked his first tobacco product and decreed it illegal for adverse health effects of coughing. Tobacco still became a catastrophic health risk to society. Corsets are known to cause organ, tissue and skeletal damage. Seatbelts and helmets have slowly become fashionable. Fashion and health safety are frequently at odds battling for cultural popularity. Each section of the multitude of cultural social groups that exist influence its population. Audre Lorde who lived with breast cancer for almost a decade felt that her “scars are an honorable reminder that I may be a casualty in the cosmic war against radiation, animal fat, air pollution, McDonald’s hamburgers and Red Dye No. 2,” (CancerJournals 60).
Bras may be a factor in the escalating cases of breast cancer. Interest in determining the depth of societal/cultural influence on health issues as covertly mundane as wearing a bra have only been shallowly explored. Women put them on with little thought to why. We are introduced to bras as a rite of passage, and there are few things more exciting, for a pre-teen, than journeying to purchase your first one. We equate this with being a “real woman”. It is a bonding experience and one of many steps to womanhood. Most American women wear them; they provide a social function, modesty and professionalism are a presumed perception when wearing bra. Bras also have a large role in self-esteem and femininity.
“Women have been programmed to view our bodies only in terms of how they look and feel to others. . . . I must consider what my body means to me…. The rape victim is accused of enticing the rapist. The battered wife is accused of having angered her husband,” (Cancer Journals 65-66). Breast cancer has no foundation for accusations or guilt yet this is not the reality expressed by its survivors.
The unanswered question is why we wear bras. Why did we ever start wearing bras to begin with? Why do we continue to wear them? What are the health benefits or risks? Why have we never questioned them? Accusations and guilt surrounds a woman who does not wear a bra. Women who do not wear bras are deemed lewd or loose. Guilt and accusations seem to surround the usage of bras and breasts. “Pleasure and power do not cancel or turn back against one another; they seek out, overlap, and reinforce one another. They are linked together by complex mechanisms and devices of excitation and incitement,” (The History of Sexuality pg. 48).
All cultures have their own personal fetishes. The United States of America is no exception. The neck and wrist in Japan are the erotic parts of the body, in China it is feet. In the U.S. it is breasts. They are on the cover of most magazines, exploited on T.V. and advertising. Breasts have an immeasurable effect on female and male psyche alike. They are too small, too large, pushed, pulled, stretched and constricted to fit our idea of normalcy and desirability. Foucault was right when he stated “the basic functioning of a society penetrated through and through with disciplinary mechanisms” ( Discipline and Punishment pg 209). These mechanisms are what define our loose ideas of normalcy and desirability.
“We believe that we have found a trigger for breast cancer. It is a trigger that is pulled by women themselves-but the gun is loaded by society,” (Singer Sydney Ross, and Soma Grismajer 1995:xv). Bras are contributing to breast cancer according to husband and wife researchers Singer and Grismajer. “I am defined as other in every group I’m a part of. […] Yet without community there is certainly no liberation, no future, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between me and my oppression” (Cancer Journals 11). Wearing a bra defines being a grown woman and her femininity according to our cultural practices.
“Survival in the mouth of this dragon we call America, we have had to learn this first and most vital lesson– that we were never meant to survive. Not as human beings. And that visibility which makes us most vulnerable is that which is also is the source of our greatest strength. Because the machine will try to grind you into dust anyway, whether or not we speak. We can sit in our corners mute forever while out sisters and our selves are wasted, while our children are distorted and destroyed, while our earth is poisoned, we can sit in our safe corners mute as bottles, and we still will be no less afraid,” (Cancer Journals 20).
“The incidence and mortality of breast cancer is the highest in North America and northern Europe, intermediate levels in southern Europe and Latin America, and lowest in Asia and Africa. Recent years show that there has been an increase in the incidence of breast cancer in younger women in Asia, central Europe, and South America,” (Singer Sydney Ross, and Soma Grismajer 1995:44). Japan has one of the lowest breast cancer rates worldwide. Their custom of dressing involves layers though and not bras. Japanese women living in America have equal rates with American born Caucasian women in two to three generations, implying that cultural assimilation is complete in two to three generations.
“We also see that different cultures in the same environment have different breast cancer rates. Native Americans, who typically do not wear bras, have a breast cancer incidence akin to that of non-Western cultures. When we compared Indian women in New Mexico with white women in New Mexico, we see that white women have about a four-fold greater breast cancer incidence rate, according to the International Association of Cancer Registries,” (Singer Sydney Ross, and Soma Grismajer 1995:53). “The greatest incidence of breast cancer in American women appears within the ages of 40 to 55. These are the very years when women are portrayed in the popular media as fading and desexualized figures. Contrary to the media picture, I find myself as a woman of insight ascending into my highest and powers,” (Cancer Journals 64).
A recent study done by medical anthropologists (in 1993, occurring in Denver, San Francisco, Phoenix, Dallas and New York City of 5,000 women; approx. 50% malignant, 50% benign) has outlined convincing evidence that we are wearing tourniquets, in effect castrating our breasts from our bodies. Bras are trapping carcinogens in our breasts and restricting the oxygen and circulation of our lymphatic system. A stagnate, insulated breeding ground for cancer is created. “Current estimates are that 90 percent of all women in America will experience at least one breast cancer scare by finding a breast lump at some time,” (Singer Sydney Ross, and Soma Grismajer 1995:xi).
There is no cure for cancer; in fact scientists really have no idea what initially triggers the chain reaction beyond the body’s innate desire to self-heal. Chronically damaged cells requesting help triggers cells that are unable to help and unable to stop trying. Tumors are formed by these rouge cells t-cells that were initial rapid growth cells responsible for creating placenta and the umbilical cord. These cells are supposed to remain dormant, they only have one on and one off switch and when they are reactivated they are responsible for 85% of cancer. It is due to this reason that pregnancy tests are never 100% accurate. They detect pregnancy 99% of the time and cancer 1% percent of the time. This occurs because the activation of these t-cells omits the same hormone as if you were pregnant, in men and women.
Cancer rates are climbing drastically in industrialized countries. “You can treat a tumor with something that can kill it, but if the initial cause of the tumor is not eliminated, a cure will not be affected,” (Singer Sydney Ross, and Soma Grismajer 1995:15). Industrialization has an effect on health. Capitalism in its base nature is motivated and controlled by profit increasing industrialization that has no interest in supporting an unprofitable cure. “We live in a profit economy and there is no profit in the prevention of cancer; there is only profit in the treatment of cancer” (Cancer Journals 74).
It is a brilliant and simple idea to take the chances of this disease occurring from 1 in 7 to 1 in 168 for every human, and the most amazing thing is that the treatment is free. It costs nothing to stop wearing bras. It is just like smoking. It is a choice. The largest problem with this subject is that it is not a known choice to all women yet. I dream of the day women are making informed decisions. Linking bras as a contributor is easy when combined with other issues such as food cooked over 350 degrees having no nutritional value, thus no assistance to our immunity to disease, aspartame turning to formaldehyde in your stomach and corn syrup being cancer’s fuel with much of this food being contaminated by BPAs.
Breasts are external organs. They have evolved with the Homo sapiens’ form freely for 400,000 years. In the last few centuries breasts have become victims of industrialization and technological society’s definition of conformity to become attractive to perspective mates. In the Dressed to Kill study appearance standards were considered, “Women with breast cancer were two times as likely to value appearance when selecting a bra than the standard group of women. In addition, women from the cancer group were half as likely to consider comfort as those in the standard group” (Singer Sydney Ross, and Soma Grismajer 1995:106). We no longer need survival of the fittest, we have bras. “Women are kept from expressing the power of [their] knowledge and experience, and through that expression, developing strengths that challenge those structures within our lives that support the Cancer Establishment” (Cancer Journals 59).
We easily accept that restrictive male undergarments have adverse effects on sperm and testicular health. Testes with low sperm counts need cooling and unrestricted movement. Breasts, like testes, are meant to be cooler than our body’s core temperature. They also need uninhibited gravity assistance for effective lymphatic transport and removal of toxins; this transport system is dependent on activity/exercise. Muscular constriction and relaxation massages and motivates the lymphatic circulation. The lymphatic nodes not only transport toxins, but produce white blood cells and antibodies. Strangling this system is not to our benefit.
History shows many cultures sought clean water and built elaborate systems to maintain them. That water system would have been useless without its equal partner in a sewer system. Our cellular sewer system is the lymphatic system; it is poorly documented and studied. The lymphatic system is innumerable hollow reservoirs that collapse when empty so they are difficult to find in dissections and impossible to identify in the medical teaching system of cadaver labs. American medical schools spend comparatively little time teaching it compared to other body systems. The medical text Gray’s Anatomy states, “As these structures [lymphatic vessels] are not readily seen in dissections, the student is apt to forget the study of the lymphatic drainage,” (Singer Sydney Ross, and Soma Grismajer 1995:85). History has shown that a city with no sewer system will die, and the human body is no different, inhibiting our sewer system kills us too.
The muscular/skeletal system has evolved an active support system for the breasts. The atrophy of these muscles through aging and lack of use creates the undesirable effect of sagging. Aging has become a cultural faux pas. Breasts are forced to maintain the same position throughout the female life cycle instead of being allowed to age gracefully and move freely. Lifelong use of bras has done nothing to stop sagging. Bras appear to have assisted gravity by taking the muscular function of support away from the body.
Bras insulate, restrict and confine lymphatic flow. Cancer propagates in higher temperatures, toxic and stagnate environments. Temperature changes also have dramatic effects on hormonal releases and reactions. The nature of the bra is a tourniquet. We have become immune to noticing the red tourniquet marks, or the extreme of permanent dents, left on the female body by bras. Bras hold in cellular toxins and decrease the amount of oxygen creating and anoxic state of existence. Oxygen is a deterrent to cancer, along with proper cellular nutrients. Cancer’s main source of fuel is processed sugar. The sugar and toxins are pumped in by our stronger circulatory system while we dam off the sewer system.
The lymphatic system is externally superficial and unprotected. It does not benefit from skeletal protection or the pumping action of a motor like our blood has from our heart. Its thin walls are easily collapsed by pressure from restrictive garments. A tourniquet easily restricts blood flow in an arm for laboratory uses and it has a powerful pump and reinforced arterial and venous walls. The lymphatic system is no match for bras. It is easily over powered and easily healed. Lymphatic cancers (Hodgkin’s is one form) are among the least detrimental of cancers. They have some of the highest recovery rates.
Breast cancer is inaccurately named. Breast cancer has nothing to do with breasts. It has nothing to do with being female. It has nothing to do with the female mammary glands ability to produce milk. Men get breast cancer. Women have a much higher rate of breast cancer than men do even living in relatively similar environments, with the same genetics and the same sewer system. Women’s average rates are 1 in 7; men have an average of 1 in 176.
Why do we call it breast cancer? This is where we get back to cultural interference and the bottom line. Lymphatic cancer is not a sexy name and has difficulty attracting funding. Breast cancer propaganda is everywhere. Have you noticed all the little pink ribbons, even in the NFL? It is interesting that these ribbons are pink, that the subject of male breast cancer is glazed over, along with the fact that this cancer is inappropriately named. Prostate cancer has 32% morbidity compared to 35% breast cancer morbidity. We have yet to give prostate cancer a ribbon and put it on football helmets.
Breast cancer patients I know have little concern with all the hype. They feel isolated and lonely. “Pink” values purport to exemplify sisterhood of community toting awareness and a search for the cure and support for the cause. The pink cloud seems to have infected all but those it claims to champion. . Pink defines a community of breast cancer today. Historically breast cancer was treated quietly and remained hidden from view. The disease remains hidden; however its fan club is highly visible. It is an army of pink that leaps off the shelves and into the home of the consumer. Pink has taken breast cancer from private to public. The public relieves its guilt and lack of understanding with purchasing pink. .
Disease has become a corporate venture. Commercial programing is saturated with new drugs, hospital and health driven business ventures that are represented by mascots and symbols to advance their products through association. Mascots and symbols aligning corporations with a veneer of respect and enhancing its image are allowing a public interpretation that influencing profit.
Pink originates from old English pynca meaning point, and verb meanings of piercing or stabbing. The evolution of this word into a color has taken on a life of its own in marketing and symbolism. Literature uses pink in reference to innocence, naivety and vulnerability associated to femininity. Pink has been branded as a color of femininity. Culture has defined appropriate color use in this instance. Hitler’s use of a pink triangle to identify gay men even adheres to this unwritten rule. My definition of pink growing up was weakness, helplessness and girly. Pink definitions can be interpreted as polarly opposite. Today I love the color pink; I have many articles of pink clothing and enjoy it as a color. I still however hate what it stands for today.
Canada allows breasts to be shown on TV. They are desensitized to the idolization and erotic nature of breasts. Their medical system also has a different approach to treatment. Women having headaches, hand numbness, cysts, skin depigmentation (redness caused by tourniquet action of bra), masses, back pain or postural problems are first told to remove bras. Resolution of problem is found to occur within one to three months. The Canadian government enjoys the benefits of resolution to health issues with little cost to the budget.
Size is an argument for bra use versus nonbra use. Watch the Norwegian Equestrian team. They are busty girls that have free range of motion in a high impact event. The muscular support system is taunt and healthy. Breasts, like all anatomy, become stronger with use, breast feeding is breast exercise. The more activity the breast tissue has, the decreased risk it has for developing breast cancer. Exercise is a huge component of breast cancer recovery and reduces reoccurrence, it is also a form of prevention.
“The health value of corsets was expressed by Vogue in 1932: ‘Women’s abdominal muscles are notoriously weak, and even hard exercise doesn’t keep your figure from spreading if you do not give it some support.’ This view of the female body justified the fashion of corsets on biological grounds-grounds that have since been shaken and shown to be absurd. From our vantage point of the late twentieth century, this justification sounds like a rationalization for the fashion of corsets, not a sound piece of medical advice. But bras, the direct descendants of corsets, have been recommended with the same type of medical rationalization,” (Singer Sydney Ross, and Soma Grismajer 1995:151).
The American Cancer Society and the Internet promote that bra potentiating breast cancer is a rumor. No research is provided to support this statement, nor is any being done. Bras are not yet to be included in any medical history form, nor are questions about bra use asked during treatment for breast cancer that I have observed or found. Women who do not wear bras have a similar rate of breast cancer as men. Treatment and diagnosis of breast cancer can be just as dangerous as the cancer in the United States. Biopsies spread it, radiation triggers it, and chemotherapy kills more healthy cells than unhealthy cells. Biopsies spread cancer by shoving needles into the questionable mass, and then it leaves a trail of contaminated cells as the needle is removed through the entire compromised needle track. Mammograms smash breasts like a pimple and spread the infected cells.
The American Cancer Society’s definition of cured cancer is surviving 5 years post diagnosis. This is not the assumed definition of cured by the general public. Science is no closer to a cure because they are no closer to figuring out the initial cause. They are searching in a tiny field of hay for an even tinier needle. It may be that we need to look at the big picture instead. “According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is a process that can begin up to twenty years before the disease is detected and diagnosed,” (Singer Sydney Ross, and Soma Grismajer 1995:94). Women who are 20 years into bra use are the highest risk category.
Lung cancer is thrown out of the American Cancer Society’s released statistical numbers. It deems that lung cancer is accelerated and acerbated by smoking, that the prevention of lung cancer will be greatly affected by decreased use of tobacco, not by medical intervention. This is deemed an uncontrollable variable, and can therefore, be a justified discard in the statistical evidence of cancer. Easily treated cancers, that are termed precancerous, are included to adjust statistics positively to advocate current treatments and expenditures. Statistical manipulation is easy to comprehend once the adjusted dependent variables are known.
The medical world, actually the entire world, is dependent on pyramidal effects. We are all affected by, the “butterfly effect” or to make this theory more relevant, the bee effect. One little overlooked variable can cause a pyramid to collapse. There are no silver bullets. Many things affect our health and the addition of all these things in our industrial/technological culture add up.
The advent of agriculture and profuse use of corn, initially thought to advance our species from hunter gather to sedentary agriculturist to passive technology age, is now being reevaluated. The dependency on one main soft sugary food source actually led to decreased health (initially with cavities to expansion of cancer) and we are still today struggling with and affected by the effects of sugary sedentary lifestyles. Corn sugar is a main ingredient in many products and is largely responsible for the rising cases of diabetes. “According to the World Health Organization, 70 to 80 percent of people in developed nations-such as the United States- die from lifestyle caused diseases,” (Singer Sydney Ross, and Soma Grismajer 1995:7).
The American diet has led to record numbers of obesity. Americans mainly consume dead calories. Any food cooked over 350 degree has no nutritional value. All vitamins and minerals are denatured at higher temperatures rendering them useless to our bodies. Deep fat fried food and microwaved food are two examples of dead calories. They give us calorie fuel but no nutrients to repair or maintain health. We supplement our food with manmade nutrients that may turn out to be just as useless as the denatured vitamins and minerals that have been destroyed by heat.
Food labels often say enriched, meaning that the food has been over processed, over heated, and the nutritional value has been compromised. Enriching the food is an attempt to replace those nutrients with man-made substitutes that are highly unlikely to be useful to our body. The next noticeable labeling item is bleached. Read the warning label on a bottle of bleach and then decide if you want this done to the food you are ingesting. Why we behave with racial supremacy towards flour I will never know. Our over processed food habit has grown out of control, only to satisfy our immediate gratification needs. This is starving our bodies of nutrients. High fructose corn syrup is the next most common ingredient listed on food labels. Corn created sedentary agricultural lifestyles with cavities and now it is to blame for diabetes.
Aspartame is the next red flag in the ingredient list. Aspartame is a manmade sweetener that denatures into formaldehyde at 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Your stomach is 96 degrees; the after-taste from that diet soda is formaldehyde. Corpse deterioration rates are changing in forensic science because of this pretreatment. Embalming may be unnecessary in the future. Aspartame is in most products labeled diet or low calorie. Brain tumors have increased after its releases into the market. MSG and maltodextrin are also known carcinogens. If you cannot pronounce it, you should not eat it, barring foreign food. After evaluating these issues, it is easy to see how our health is circling the drain. It is not easy or quick to prepare your own food and it is not popular to stay home and eat.
Plastic is used to contain much of our processed food in the forms of microwave plastic bags and liners in cans. This plastic contains bisphenol A (BPA’s). Canned vegetables, beer, soda, peas, and peaches are all saturated with BPA’s by heat exposure for sealing and pasteurization. They are estrogen mimickers. That funny taste from your bottled water that has sat in your car is residue you can taste from BPA’s. Placing plastic in the microwave with food not only kills all the nutrients and creates dead calories; it then saturates the food with estrogen mimickers, but you won’t find it in the food label. “The FDA considers the BPAs released during packaging and consumption in these containers to be an unintentional food additive,” (Singer Sydney Ross, and Soma Grismajer 1995:69).
We must also consider toxins not only that we ingest but also absorb and inhale. Other synthetic estrogen mimickers are present in laundry detergent and lotions and other soaps that you use for your hands and body frequently. If it is not biodegradable, it may have estrogen mimickers in it, and it should not be rubbed into your body. Recent research believes that upwards of 20% of all birth defects, a majority of spontaneous abortions and fertility problems are due to BPA’s and other artificial estrogen.
Our current water treatment systems are unable to remove hormones synthetic or natural. Women who use oral birth control and hormone therapy actually utilize a very low percentage of the hormone. These hormones are then rejected by the body and upwards of 80 % of them are added to the sewer system and recycled into the water system. Natural hormones are compounded by synthetic hormones and sperm motility rates in men have experienced a significant recent decline that is blamed on this issue. Breast cancer is thought to be hormonally triggered. We have increased our exposure to these hormones, both natural and unnatural. The age of American female menarche has hit a worldwide record low. Early menarche is also a high risk factor in breast cancer with extended menopause. This increases the time of natural hormone production. One cannot help but wonder about the barrage of environmental/industrial hormones affecting this.
Our skin is our largest organ, yet we forget this when applying topical products. It does not seem to register that these topical products are absorbed and enter our body and are then stored in there. Petroleum, parabins and perfumes are known carcinogens. These products are found in many lotions, lip balms and even medical creams. Petroleum products go in our cars, not on our skin, the argument about it being in our cars is an environmental issue now too.
Our clothing is manufactured with chemicals leaving residue readily absorbed by our skin just as the chemicals from the soaps used on them are. We roll around in chemicals all night in our sheets and all day in our clothes. Experiments on animals have yielded few answers and may not yield many. “Beta-naphthylamine, for example, does not cause tumors in animals, but is one of the most active cancer-causing chemicals in humans” (Singer Sydney Ross, and Soma Grismajer 1995:67).
Soda (or pop) can be a huge factor in contributing to poor health. The amount of high fructose corn syrup in one can consumed once a day can increase your chances of type II diabetes by 50%. The can is lined with plastic, adding BPAs to your soda, to facilitate sealing and slowing can degradation from acids contained in some sodas. The acid contained in cola sodas can dissolve the corrosion off your car’s battery cables almost instantly when combined with baking soda. If it is diet soda, it contains aspartame that denatures into formaldehyde in your stomach and is absorbed by your intestinal tract. If this was not enough we add caffeine, which causes cardiac rhythm disturbances, frequently causing a rhythm defined as malignant preventricular contractions. This rhythm, unlike breast cancer, is not inappropriately named. It leads to ventricular tachycardia which is the precursor of death. Malignant should be the definition of soda.
Genetics cannot be entirely at fault. Women who die of breast cancer die horribly. Their breasts ulcerate, turning into huge open angry oozing sores. If your grandmother or great grandmother had died that way, the women in your family would remember, retelling each other about it as oral family lore. The increased rates do not correlate statistically with time frame and history of the disease, let alone genetic propagation.
Bras began being questioned as a possible contributor to breast cancer in the 1970’s. Harvard did a study in the 80’s. “Dressed to Kill” was released in 1993 by Sydney Ross Singer and his wife Soma Grismajer. This book addresses a study of 5,000 residents of the United States from 5 major cities.
Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismajer report the following:
- Women who wore their bras 24 hours per day had a 3 out of 4 chance of developing breast cancer (in their study, n=2056 for the cancer group and n=2674 for the standard group).
- Women who wore bras more than 12 hour per day but not to bed had a 1 out of 7 risk.
- Women who wore their bras less than 12 hours per day had a 1 out of 152 risk.
- Women who wore bras rarely or never had a 1 out of 168 chance of getting breast cancer. The overall difference between 24 hour wearing and not at all was a 125-fold difference.
Statistically this works out as shown below:
- Rarely or never: .595% chance
- 1-12 hour use: .658% chance; 1.14% increases with each hour.
- 12 + hour use: 14.285% chance; 5.05% increase with each hour.
- 24 hour use: 75% chance
In other words;
- 23 out of 24 cases of 12 hour use could be prevented or;
- 126 out of 127 cases of 24 hour use could be prevented.
This may not be a cure, but it beats the American Cancer Society’s definition of cure and all the other options that are currently being pursued and suggested to women with genetic predispositions. Women who are genetically at a 17% risk are given the option to have bilateral mastectomies, yet they get prosthetics and continue to wear a bra. It could get interesting when these women develope breast cancer anyway. There are over 5,000 lymphatic glands in your torso, a radical mastectomy, or sewer removal, does not appear to be a good choice in light of this information. Sewer removal would effectively kill any city. “In the cause of silence, each one of us draws the face of her own fear–fear of contempt, of censure, of some judgment, or recognition, of challenge, of annihilation. But most of all, I think, we fear the very visibility without which we also cannot truly live” (Cancer Journals 19-20).
While pursuing this topic, reactions to it have been intriguing. I have found one of two reactions from women occurs, and it is never predictable. They stop wearing a bra, to see for themselves how it affects them, or they are angry and deny any foundation for this information. It is surprising the majority of people who have never heard of or even questioned this notion. As a medical anthropologist and former paramedic, I began questioning this over 10 years ago. I developed an allergy, actually anaphylactic reaction (red streaking and compromised respiratory system), to latex and tape that has spread to a sensitivity to many latex type materials. The rubber backing placed on bras to prevent slipping created blisters. I began wearing 100% cotton bras. As my bra wearing decreased the immunity to pain I had developed in my bra “training” period disappeared. The less I wore bras, the more painful it became to wear them. I had become so used to the discomfort that I didn’t notice it. Having a bra on for 15 minutes now makes my armpits ache and itch and I become miserable.
There are many reasons we have been taught to wear them: we do not want to sag, we do not want our nipples to show and we do not want to lose our job. The reasons go on and on. In reality, we have evolved 400,000 years without them. Bras are structurally incompatible with our musculature/skeletal system, they cause more problems than they solve, from back pain to benign cysts and the probable possibility of potentiating cancer. An architect would never design a bra; it creates the greatest amount of pressure in the weakest structural points.
I frequently share this information with any women who will hold still for 30 seconds and appears interested, at the grocery store, school or swimming pool. Her level of questioning steers my response from full thesis dissertation to cliff note style presentation. In spreading this information, I have also created a group of women who have decided to give this notion a try. All of them have come to me and repeated my story. The less they wear bras, the more painful it becomes until they just finally stop wearing them.
This trial medical treatment is free. I am confused by anyone who will not even consider it and honestly do their own research. A large group of women are terrified of being without their bras. In this way, they remind me of smokers. Smokers are well aware of what they are doing to their bodies and yet they do it anyway.
I have never had a man argue with me about this subject. They generally swallow the information hook, line and sinker and make statements like “that makes sense”. They also seem to be on board with bras being discarded; they may not be foreseeing that women without bras would stop being a novelty if it went into mass acceptance.
I am a runner and I am frequently asked if I run without my bra; the answer is yes. I even ride horses without a bra just like the Norwegian Equestrian team. I then ask whomever I am talking to if they have ever been able to notice that I am without a bra. The answer has always been no. Men manage to disguise their nipples with loose fitting undergarments, and women can too. I have seen many women in bras and their nipples continue to show.
It would be a dream comes true if all women could be convinced to go bra free for 6 months and see what happens to breast cancer rates. The study would be free. The problem is getting it into the public arena. There is over 500 billion dollars of revenue per year related to these topics. Every time you see a pink ribbon you think of breast cancer, I see the money that is being collected and paid out when we could just have a simple free trial.
I should note here that I have a high genetic risk for breast cancer. It runs in my family and my sister is a 24 hour a day bra wearer. I have spent many hours with oncologists. I have read many medical oncology books. I am saddened that the medical system waits until prevention has an uphill battle before mentioning it. “Any information about the prevention or treatment of breast cancer which might possibly threaten the vested interests of the American medical establishment is difficult to acquire in this country,” (Cancer Journals 73).
Optimistically, there are so many things we could fix as consumers. The tobacco industry has lost a large part of its power. Americans can choose health; if it is not bought, it will not be produced. Look at the ingredients label on a product before buying it, especially before eating it. Increase your fresh fruits and vegetables, honey and color in your diet. Drink antioxidants like green tea; Japan does have the highest life expectancy. Use biodegradable soaps and last, but not least, exercise.
“In the fight against breast cancer, one of our major enemies is the way we see and treat women, and the way we condition women to see and treat themselves,” (Singer Sydney Ross, and Soma Grismajer 1995:170).
- 1 out 4 women diagnosed with cancer is a diagnosis of breast cancer.
- Non bra use could drastically effect 25% of females with cancer
- 202,300 women have breast cancer
- Statistically non-bra use could cut this to 8,500 women with breast cancer
- 40,460 women were expected to die from breast cancer in 2007
- Statistically deaths by nonbra use could be decreased to 1,685
“Women with breast cancer are warriors. I have been to war, and still am. So has every woman who has had one or both breasts amputated because of the cancer that is becoming the primary physical scourge of our time. For my scars are an honorable reminder that I may be a casualty in the cosmic war against radiation, animal fat, air pollution, McDonald’s hamburgers and Red Dye No. 2e, but the fight is still going on, and I am still a part of it. I refuse to have my scars hidden or trivialized behind lamb’s wool or silicone gel. I refuse to be reduced in my own eyes or in the eyes of others from warrior to mere victim, simply because it might render me a fraction more acceptable or less dangerous to the still complacent, those who believe if you cover up a problem it ceases to exist. I refuse to hide my body simply because it might make a woman-phobic world more comfortable,” (Cancer Journals 60).
Bras are not the cause of breast cancer. We do not know the primary trigger or cause of breast cancer or cancer in general. Correlation does not equal cause; known cause normally generates a known cure. Breast cancer occurs in men who do not wear bras, but after reading this study, other evidence and participating in my own self-study and watching other women do their own self studies it seems that prevention is the key to downsizing many health problems. There is no bill for bra removal. Breast cancer has extensive billable prospects from: research, radiation, chemo, medical diagnostic tools, surgery, to reconstruction or prosthesis and last but not least pink ribbons.
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Foucault Michel. The History of Sexuality. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1978.
Foucault Michel. Discipline and Punishment. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1979.
Gray Henry F.R.S. Gray’s Anatomy. London: PRC Publishing, 2005.
Lorde, Audre. The Cancer Journals. San Francisco: aunt lute books, 1980.
Pierce Tanya Harter. Outsmart Your Cancer. Stateline, Nevada: Thoughtsworks Publishing, 2004.
Salaman Maureen Kennedy. Nutrition: The Cancer Answer II. Mountain View, California: Statford Publishing, 1996.
Singer Sydney Ross, and Soma Grismajer. Get it Off!. Pahoa, Hawaii U.S.A.: The Instiute for the Study of Culturogenic Disease Press, 1995.
Singer Sydney Ross, and Soma Grismajer. Dressed to Kill. Pahoa, Hawaii U.S.A.: The Instiute for the Study of Culturogenic Disease Press, 1995.
Tannock Ian F. and Richard P. Hill. The Basic Science of Oncology. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1998.
Tortura and Grabowski. Principles of Anatomy and Physiology. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers Inc., 1996.
Walraven Gail. Basic Arrhythmias. . Upper Saddle River, NY: Brady Prentice Hall, 1999.
Documentation Films Watched for Research:
King of Korn
The Human Foot Print; National Geographic
Becoming Human; Nova
American Cancer Society, statistic reports at: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/STT/STT_0.asp