While browsing through a bookstore, I came across a book that claimed that underwire bras can cause breast cancer. I wear an underwire bra, am I increasing my risk of cancer?
I searched the medical literature for studies on underwire bras and a possible link to cancer, and I did not find any. I also consulted with Dr. Hiram Cody III, an attending surgeon on the breast service at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering, one of the premier cancer treatment centers in the world. Dr. Cody, who says that he is frequently asked this question by his patients, confirms that there are absolutely no data to support the connection between the type of brought a woman wears and her risk of developing breast cancer. In Dr. Cody ‘s own words, “Cancer is a complicated process. It’s probably absurd to think that a bra has anything to do with it.”
As to whether underwire bras are dangerous in other ways, I would have to say that there is a remote possibility that a poorly fitted or a worn-out bra could cause problems. For example, if a bra is too tight, it could cause significant pain due to pressure on the ribs. In addition, if the underwire supporting the cup breaks through the fabric and cuts the skin, it could in rare circumstances result in an infection. My advice is to use your common sense. Do not wear a bra if it is too tight. If you wear an underwire bra, examine it carefully before each wearing. If the wire is beginning to poke through the fabric, retire the bra.
Dr. Marianne Legato, Professor Emerita of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University is an internationally known academic physician, author, lecturer, and specialist in gender-specific medicine. She is founding member of the International Society for Gender Medicine and also the founder and director of The Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine at Columbia University and its next iteration, The Foundation for Gender-Specific Medicine. These enterprises are the first collaborations between academic medicine and the private sector focused solely on gender-specific medicine: the science of how normal human biology differs between men and women and of how the diagnosis and treatment of disease differs as a function of gender and sex. Her ground breaking textbook on Gender-and Sex Specific Medicine has been published in 2017 in the 3rd edition.
She has published extensively on Gender and Sex Specific Medicine, both scientifically and for the lay public. She is also the founding editor of the journal Gender Medicine, and the Journal Gender and Genome, published for the scientific community. In 1992, Dr. Legato won the American Heart Association’s Blakeslee Award for the best book written for the lay public on cardiovascular disease. She is a practicing internist in New York City and has been listed each year in New York Magazine’s “Best Doctors” since the feature’s inception in 1993.