Bras, Breast Cancer, and Our Precious Daughters - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 08-04-2012, 01:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I was amazed today to stumble across the bra-free tribe here and to learn about the powerful link between bra wearing and breast cancer. Here's a link to an article about it:

 

http://www.all-natural.com/bras.html

 

I'm a 42H (before I became a mother, I was a 38 DD) and have worn bras since I was about 11. However, I have recently discovered how much more comfortable I am without a bra. I work from home and spend practically all of my time at home, so I've been going bra-free a lot for the last few months out of sheer hotness and laziness (we're without ac this summer).

 

Now that I've read this article I intend to go bra-free all the time at home, but I'm afraid I lack the courage to do so in public yet. I wish I were braver! As recently as last spring, I got some unwanted attention from a young man who noticed my breasts while I was out walking at the park, and I was wearing a bra so they definitely weren't bouncing around like they do when I'm braless, and I'm 48 so it's not like I'm this hot young chick or anything. So I'm afraid I'd just be too self-conscious without my bra in public -- but at least I spend most of my life at home now.

 

My 12yo started her period 7 months ago, and her breasts are definitely growing, and her figure looks to be developing along similar lines to mine. She did have a couple of bras that she wore occasionally several months ago, but she's outgrown them and hasn't really said anything about getting new ones. Now that I've learned what I've learned, I'm going to encourage her to stay bra-free as long as she feels comfortable doing so, and, if at any point she feels the need to wear a bra in public situations, I'm going to urge her to get into the habit of taking if off as soon as she walks in the door.

 

And I will, of course, be encouraging dd2 along the same lines.

 

We've been homeschooling, but dd1 really wants to enroll in school in order to have a wider range of social contacts. We've been letting her pursue her interests and learn things at her own pace, and she's not at the place where she's ready to enroll in 7th grade this fall. So we're spending this next year helping her get up to speed with the goal of having her enroll in the 8th grade in the fall of 2013.

 

So she will soon be spending about 7 or 8 hours, five days a week, away from home, in an environment where some boys are going to be looking at girls' breasts, and where a few might even make rude comments. And I imagine her breasts will be fairly good-sized and noticeable when she's 13. At the moment, they do have a definite shape and her nipples are really prominent, but she doesn't seem the least bit bothered by this, or self-conscious about it, and I think that's great.

 

How can we help our daughters make the right choices when it comes to their own breasts? I definitely wouldn't force her to go bra-free if it were damaging to her self-esteem, and I also worry about the negative attention she may attract if she stays bra-free as her breasts get larger. I fear that some men would see a well-developed girl going braless as a sign that she is looking for negative attention. No male has a right to behave disrespectfully toward any female, regardless of what she's wearing, but some men and boys are very disrespectful and I want to do everything I can to shield her from damaging and/or dangerous situations. 

 

Yet I also really want her to do everything she can to reduce her risk of cancer. I imagine that's how all of us feel.


Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#2 of 17 Old 08-04-2012, 01:41 PM
 
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I feel like bras are really mandatory in our culture (I'm in the U.S.) and I hate it.  People in my neighborhood tend to be much more open-minded than anywhere else around here, but even so, I *never* see braless women walking around.  Even when I went to school in manhattan where pretty much anything goes, I never saw women going braless.  I do remember seeing it in the 70s.  My mother and her friends were pretty keen on the whole liberation thing.  But never any more.  Never, never, never!  So much so that, even though I think it is profoundly wrong, I cannot imagine encouraging my young daughter to go braless to school or even out in public.  :(  I just think it would set her apart in a dramatic way.  

 

As far as the cancer risk (I didn't read the article, but just guessing) I would probably encourage her to wear something without underwires and, as you were saying, to take it off when she's at home.  For some reason (though now I cannot fathom why) I always felt more comfortable with a bra on when I was younger, like in my teens and 20s, and for years I even slept in my bra.  Was I the only one that felt that way?  Maybe it was something about new breasts.  lol  Anyhow, I would discourage that sort of behavior.  

 

But if I see any chink in the armor of this pro-bra thing, I'll be running with it and out there braless to show my support!


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#3 of 17 Old 08-04-2012, 03:12 PM
 
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http://breastcancer.about.com/od/riskfactorsindetail/a/bras-breast-cancer.htm

 

I will encourage my daughter to be professionally sized and to wear correctly-fitting bras, but I don't personally see any benefit to discouraging bra-wearing.  I'm an F/G cup and I'm more comfortable in a good bra.  I would not be surprised if she ends up being stacked similarly, and a good bra is a good thing IMO.


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#4 of 17 Old 08-04-2012, 03:31 PM
 
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It probably depends on your breast shape, but I think you can generally go bra-free without anyone noticing. If I wear a snug-fitting shirt, I think I look pretty much the same as if I were wearing a bra (except without panty-line-like bra outlines, which ideally you're not supposed to have anyway). Wearing a camisole under a loose-fitting shirt has the same effect. Unfortunately, going au natural with a t-shirt has a "just rolled out of bed and couldn't be bothered to change out of my pajamas" look to it.

 

I don't think anything but a thick bra (or a thick jacket) will hide that nipples-poking-out shape when your nipples are hardened, but I don't think very many people care about that. It still shows through some bras, so I don't think it tips people off that you're not wearing a bra.

 

But it's different when you're in middle or high school. Do schools these days still force kids to change clothes in front of each other? Well, then the secret's out. Plus wearing nothing but a shirt means being bare-breasted while changing, but you might not want to wear the same camisole all day if you're going to spend an hour getting all sweaty (and some P.E. teachers may try forbid wearing the same camisole, if they notice).

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#5 of 17 Old 08-04-2012, 05:11 PM
 
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Cyllya,  You are my new hero.  lol  If my breasts looked the same with and without a bra that would just be a whole different world.  I would assume that it's because I'm large breasted and assume that you are small breasted except that I have a friend who is maybe *barely* a B cup and I can totally tell when she's not wearing a bra.  Do you just go braless all the time then?  Seems like there's no reason at all for you to even have one.  You need to count yourself as lucky.  All of my bras are in terrible shape right now and I'm really bummed about the idea of probably spending over a hundred dollars to buy a few more.  

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#6 of 17 Old 08-04-2012, 05:16 PM
 
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I'm not comfortable without a bra on- even in my sleep. My nipples are sensitive and my back hurts from the weight. I cant imagine the appearance. A bra is the only think keeping me from looking like I have two big blobs (boobs and gut) most of the time ;)


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#7 of 17 Old 08-04-2012, 05:29 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chickabiddy View Post

http://breastcancer.about.com/od/riskfactorsindetail/a/bras-breast-cancer.htm

I will encourage my daughter to be professionally sized and to wear correctly-fitting bras, but I don't personally see any benefit to discouraging bra-wearing.  I'm an F/G cup and I'm more comfortable in a good bra.  I would not be surprised if she ends up being stacked similarly, and a good bra is a good thing IMO.

ITA with this. I'm stacked, and I'm very aware of the different nature of attention that I get for my breasts when braless and not. Good bras were also indispensable for me for dance and martial arts classes and for horseback riding and jogging. Pregnancy would have been excruciating without them. I do not work from home, and bralessness really does not fly in professional environments.

I'm in treatment for breast cancer now - I've lost one breat to mastectomy and I'm undergoing an intensive round of chemotherapy, to be followed by less intense chemo, and radiation. There's nothing about this that doesn't suck. If I knew what it was that caused me to have breast cancer, I would give my precious daughter a list. But there is no way to know. It's not genetic in my case. It seems to be just lousy luck.

I hope and pray that no one I love ever has to go through what I'm going through, but I'm not willing to deprive my dd of the many ways that bras have been good to me.
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#8 of 17 Old 08-04-2012, 05:50 PM
 
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Okay, I went and read the article and I'm seriously unimpressed.

Ralph Reed may be a great guy, but he has failed to provide a link to the study that's impressing him so much, and hasn't engaged with it critically at all. He doesn't talk about how the study population was selected. He doesn't consider confounding factors, like age or breast size.

Sometimes a researcher does a project, realizes it's crap and moves on without publishing. I wonder if this is one of those.

The snopes.com message boards have a discussion on the article. They aren't impressed, and they dug up the study and highlighted information about confounding factors (lower body weight, smaller breasts) that Reed leaves out.
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#9 of 17 Old 08-05-2012, 06:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeepyCat View Post

The snopes.com message boards have a discussion on the article. They aren't impressed, and they dug up the study and highlighted information about confounding factors (lower body weight, smaller breasts) that Reed leaves out.

Now, this is a really good point. I also found myself wonderfing if the comparisons were only between women living in Western countries where it's the norm to wear a bra, and where the women who went braless would indeed be mostly those with very small breasts -- or if they might have been comparing American women to women in non-industrialized societes where there is a lot less obesity and where, obviously, the people haven't been following the really SAD Standard American Diet.

 

Or maybe I'm just wimping out 'cause I was thinking I should be brave and go braless to church today -- but I just don't think I can do it.

 

I do think it's probably a good idea, for me, not to wear a bra at home. I have been much cooler and more comfortable doing that this summer, though I rely a lot on keeping a ton of cornstarch under my breasts (which I need even when I'm wearing a bra, by the way, or I'll get a rash in the summer).

 

MeepyCat, best wishes to you in your health journey! I'm so sorry about all you're going through, and this is a reminder to me that I need to make the time to schedule a pap and breast exam, which I haven't had for years and years.

 

As to my daughter, I hadn't thought about her needing to change in front of other girls in the gym locker room. Since we have a year to prepare, I'm going to hunt down the best and most breathable and flexible bras I can. I once saw an ad about bras that allow a woman's breasts to breathe and move the way they're supposed to, but I can't remember where it is now. Maybe some of you have recommendations?


Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#10 of 17 Old 08-05-2012, 07:24 AM
 
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Meepy Cat, I'm sorry for what you are going through.

I have both my dd's professional fit as part of our back to school routine. One of my dd's is a DDD and other dd is a 28C, which we have to special order. Making sure they both in bras that fit and are comfortable is a project.

I suspect that many young women are running around in the wrong size. Heck, since my kids are still growing, there are times they are in the wrong sizes even though I'm working at this and really trying.

I think it would be inappropriate for a mother to tell her dd that she shouldn't wear a bra because it could kill her. I think that could cause a lot of problems for the dd in making peace with her body(which is an issue for many adolescents), easing her way into the world, and cause problems with her relationship with mom.

I'm sure there are young women who are comfortable braless, and that's great, too. I see our job as being supportive of what our dd want, rather than dictating what they should do.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#11 of 17 Old 08-05-2012, 09:03 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mammal_mama View PostI once saw an ad about bras that allow a woman's breasts to breathe and move the way they're supposed to, but I can't remember where it is now. Maybe some of you have recommendations?

 

DecentExposures.com bras are not cheap, but they are breathable (you can choose organic cotton), custom-fitted, and non-constricting.  They do not offer super support, but if you're comfortable being braless, then they will probably be adequate.


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#12 of 17 Old 08-06-2012, 03:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think it would be inappropriate for a mother to tell her dd that she shouldn't wear a bra because it could kill her. I think that could cause a lot of problems for the dd in making peace with her body(which is an issue for many adolescents), easing her way into the world, and cause problems with her relationship with mom.
I'm sure there are young women who are comfortable braless, and that's great, too. I see our job as being supportive of what our dd want, rather than dictating what they should do.

I want my daughters to have complete information about these issues so that they can make their own informed decisions. I'll certainly need to look for the original research on this matter -- but, after reading MeepyCat's post, I do think women with very small breasts are probably less likely to get breast cancer (I'll need to look into this further), and, as I've already mentioned, I think women in our society who feel comfortable going braless in public are more likely to be small-breasted than big-breasted -- so it seems kind of hard to know how much influence the factor of bra-wearing really has on cancer.

 

Thanks for the tip, chickabiddy! I think we'll be taking dd for professional fittings every year at tax-return time, and making sure she has at least a few bras just like the kind you're recommending.

 

I know that when I went for a professional fitting a while back -- and at Lane Bryant, which is supposedly for large women! -- they didn't have any bras large enough in their shop and had to order my bras. So I just measure myself now and order them online, but I recently went with the cheapest kind I could find in my size which is not such a good idea. One is already broken. :(

 

But I was only a DD before becoming a mom at age 35, so hopefully my dd's won't have too much trouble finding good bras while they're young, at least.


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#13 of 17 Old 08-06-2012, 07:53 AM
 
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Originally Posted by MeepyCat View Post

Okay, I went and read the article and I'm seriously unimpressed.
Ralph Reed may be a great guy, but he has failed to provide a link to the study that's impressing him so much, and hasn't engaged with it critically at all. He doesn't talk about how the study population was selected. He doesn't consider confounding factors, like age or breast size.
Sometimes a researcher does a project, realizes it's crap and moves on without publishing. I wonder if this is one of those.
The snopes.com message boards have a discussion on the article. They aren't impressed, and they dug up the study and highlighted information about confounding factors (lower body weight, smaller breasts) that Reed leaves out.

 

I agree, there are so many other factors that aren't pulled into this study. For example, are these women who go bra-less also more likely to follow a vegan/vegetarian or organic diet? Are they more or less inclined to be smokers or drinkers? Were they more likely to breastfeed their children? It's just that personally, those I know who choose to go bra-less can make all sorts of different life choices. The American Cancer Society doesn't recognize this as a valid study which makes me pretty skeptical.

 

My main reaction to the study was "wow, there are women who wear a bra 24/7?" 


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#14 of 17 Old 08-06-2012, 09:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I do agree now that it really is a stretch to say that "bras cause cancer."

 

However, I will say that, for me, I think that what the author said about it being good for breasts to have freedom of movement is a really good idea, considering how much lymph tissue is in our breasts.

 

It's fairly easy for me now to spend close to 24 hours a day bra-free these days, given I work at home and generally don't go out for more than a few hours each day. So I'm not going to stress over not being able to have the ideal bra for myself. It's hard enough even finding bras in my size that I can afford.

 

But I feel it's going to be very important for my girls to have the healthiest bras possible if they want bras. Since dd1 will be going to school in a year and is really excited about the chance to get involved in extracurricular activities, this could mean a lot of hours each day "harnessed up" -- this term just came to mind because when I was a little girl watching my mother putting on her bra and girdle, it really reminded me of a horse being harnessed. I'm not sure where I got this concept as I don't even recall meeting a horse until around age ten, but my dad did really enjoy Westerns, so I guess I saw horses being harnessed on TV.

 

Anyhow, and I apologize if I'm offending anyone, I do kind of see society's treatment of the female body as somewhat like breaking in a horse who would probably be happier in the wild. And I say this as someone who's totally absorbed society's conditioning regarding the "ideal" female body. I definitely feel like my overweight body looks more attractive when I'm "harnessed up" -- though I don't wear a girdle like my mom did, and my breasts do stick out further than my belly even when I'm braless, I still feel like wearing my bra provides a more attractive contrast between bust-size and waist-size, and I just can't seem to get away from the feeling that the greater the contrast between waist size and breast and hip size, the more attractive I am.

 

I'd like to mature into having a healthier and more freeform concept of female beauty...and I'm sure this would really be helpful as I'm probably not all that far off from the change of life. I'd like to feel more welcoming of the Crone phase...but, of course, I'm not going to try to impose my thoughts on this on my daughters (though of course I do, and will continue to, share my thoughts on this and any other topic whenever I feel I should). They need to develop their own relationships with society and with their own bodies...I'd just like for them to have all the information that's available as they make all the important choices they're going to make.


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#15 of 17 Old 08-06-2012, 02:16 PM
 
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Being overweight significantly increases the risk of breast cancer. They even have tables that show your increased risk based how much extra weight you are carrying around.

this a very real, very proven risk.

Bras, not so much.

If you want to reduce your chance of breast cancer, approach achieving and then maintaining a healthy weight as if your life depends on it. Your dd's will learn from that.

My mother's fight with breast cancer motivated me to loose 75 pounds. I struggle with weight still.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#16 of 17 Old 08-10-2012, 12:41 AM
 
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aaah ladies. you need to read Breasts : A Natural and Unnatural History. its a fascinating book. the author has done a great job. breast cancer has a lot to do with breasts being basically made up of fat, and fat is what attracts teh toxins as well as having kids late allowing high amounts of estrogen to stay in the body till later. 


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#17 of 17 Old 08-10-2012, 02:04 PM
 
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I was a vegetarian, ran marathons, didn't smoke or drink, breast fed my girls, didn't take hormonal birth control, no family history and I was still diagnosed. Being female is a risk factor. The stats are 1 in 8- please do a monthly breast exam and get a yearly mammogram with baseline starting at age 40 (earlier with family history). I ended up with 4 tumors- none which I could palpate- all found on my routine mammogram which was normal the year prior. I do primary care and do breast exams on a daily basis!

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