Is Wearing A Bra Actually Bad For Your Health?


We at Bustle love giving you tips for how to tap into your sexual potential and troubleshoot when things aren’t going your way in the bedroom. But what about finding solutions to those stressful sexual health situations that inevitably crop up when you’re getting down? Emma Kaywin, a Brooklyn-based sexual health writer and activist, is here to calm your nerves and answer your questions. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions will remain anonymous. Please send your questions to This week’s topic: how bras can impact your health.

Q: Do underwire bras really speed up breast cancer? And also is it true that breasts are perkier if you don’t wear support, or does gravity actually pull them down? Basically I have so many questions about bra myths. What’s true and what’s just someone telling me how to live my life?!

A: Bras: that item you just couldn’t wait to have when you were a tween ... that now you can’t wait to take off the moment you walk into your house. You might not think that a piece of lingerie could have any effect on your health … that is, until you are confronted with one of the myriad articles on the subject. Wear bras or your tits will sag like a grandma by the time you’re 30! Burn your bra or you’ll get breast cancer and die young! Some of these pieces make health claims that are backed by research, but just how true are they? Let’s take a look.

Claim #1: Wearing A Bra Can Give You Cancer

Is It True? No.

If you’ve heard a rumor that bras can cause breast cancer, you’re not the only one. This claim is cited in a number of places and is supported by the argument that bras can obstruct the flow of lymph in your body. But let’s get right to it and set this rumor to rest: there is no evidence to support that supporting your breasts with an underwire bra can raise your risk of breast cancer. Phew!

Claim #2: If You Don’t Wear A Bra, Your Breasts Will Get Very Saggy

Is It True? Not really.

Another very popular claim is that wearing a bra will stop your breasts from sagging — this is the gravity theory, in which your bra counteracts the gravity that’s always pulling your breasts toward earth. Unfortunately, nothing can stop the natural pull of time. By which I mean to say, your breasts are going to sag eventually, no matter what. A bit of lace is no match for the majesty of gravity.

However, there is some evidence that wearing a sports bra while you work out can help your tatas remain perky. This is because your breasts are held in place by connective tissue, which when it breaks down, causes sagging. Bouncing up and down, as happens to your breasts when you’re running, soulcycling, zumba-ing, whatever, can break down this tissue over time, causing your breasts to be more susceptible to the law of gravity.

Counterintuitively, however, there is also some evidence that not wearing a bra at all can help your breasts stay perky longer. (More on that in a minute.)

Claim #3: If You Wear A Bra To Bed, It Will Keep Your Breasts Perky

Is It True? Nope.

There’s also no proof that wearing a bra to bed does anything for tit gravity defiance, so definitely don't do this unless you find it more comfortable.

Claim #4: Not Wearing A Bra Means Will Prevent Sagging

Is It True? Perhaps, yes.

This claim blew up the Internet a couple years ago. It’s based on a 15-year study by a French guy who found that bras can actually cause your breasts to sag faster and more significantly. The theory is that this is because your breasts not only have connective tissue that keep them in place, but also suspension muscles which suspend your breasts in their desired location. This researcher found that bras actually do the work of these muscles, which means the muscles don’t get worked out. These lazy muscles eventually get weak and aren’t as good as holding up your breasts, causing sagging. This study was only led with 330 humans (or 660 breasts) but it did show that perhaps there’s something to this no-bra thing.

Claim #5: Wearing A Bra Will Fix Your Back Pain

Is It True? Doesn't look like it.

Another claim, particularly for those of us who are very stacked, is that hauling around breasts all the time is hard on the back. However, that same French study found no difference in back pain for the subjects who wore bras and those who didn’t. For those of us who experience back pain, doctors suggest working out your back, shoulder, and core muscles more.

Claim #6: Bras Can Cut Off Your Circulation

Is It True? It can be.

Some people worry that wearing a bra can mess with your circulation, particularly in your ribcage. And certainly, if you are wearing a bra that is too small for you, it can cause some discomfort. Some research shows in particular that wearing a bra for a long period of time can cut off your circulationespecially if you wear a tight bra to bed. So make sure your desire to hold your boobs in place and get that nice line isn’t resulting in your arms going to sleep or anything like that!

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, it’s a personal preference if you want to wear a bra or not. If wearing a bra helps you feel supported and secure, wear one! If you’d rather fly free, power to you! At the end of the day, our breasts are all going to be down by our knees, because we will all live to be 100 and we will be cackling with our blue-haired friends at all the weird “anti-aging” beauty tactics we subjected our bodies to. Just do what makes you comfortable now!