Body & Fitness

Could you do without your bra?

A French expert claims we don’t need them and they could be bad for us.

Could you do without your bra? A French expert claims we don’t need them and they could be bad for us.

A generation of women burned their bras to make a stand for equal rights. Now a new study’s findings suggest we may want to consider setting them alight again as they’re not much use – and bras may be doing us more harm than good.

French sports scientist Professor Jean-Denis Rouillon spent 15 years studying 130 women with different bust sizes and concluded that we don’t need to wear bras.

In fact, our breasts might be less likely to sag without them.

“Medically, physiologically, anatomically – the breast does not benefit from being deprived of gravity,” he says.

“Contrary to popular belief, the breast does not fall [when you don’t wear a bra], but tightens and lifts, and the quality of the skin improves.”

Prof Rouillon also believes not wearing a bra keeps breasts in shape and prevents backache. He adds that being confined in a tight-fitting bra could be preventing the supporting tissues from growing.

The research is controversial, but then it seems every study looking into the pros and cons of bras leads to lots of debate.

Bras have been blamed for everything from cancer to breathing problems, but scientists still can’t say for sure if that is the case.

Obviously, wearing any garment that is tight is not a good idea as it can cause discomfort and, in severe cases, restrict blood flow.

While some people believe bras cause serious conditions, such as cancer, by affecting the ability of the lymph system to remove toxins from the body, this is disputed by others.

A British study has found that premenopausal women who went bra-less for three months noticed less breast pain than when they wore them. Breast pain can be due to a variety of causes – the most common one is linked to hormones during the menstrual cycle. Breast cancer is just one small possibility.

While advocates of ditching bras say we wear them only to look good, women with large breasts might beg to differ.

They can experience a lot of discomfort if their breasts aren’t supported. Further research shows that women who choose not to wear a sports bra while exercising could be causing damage to the breasts as the ligaments which support them can be irreversibly stretched when the breasts bounce during high-impact activity.

The British School of Osteopathy says if breasts are not supported, the muscles at the front of the body can be put under pressure, causing rounded shoulders and subsequent problems with the neck and spine.

Prof Rouillon says he is not advising people to stop wearing bras as his study involved only a small number of women and long-term effects are not known.

Other experts offer the following advice:

• Make sure your bra is not too tight. Get your bras fitted properly when you buy them.

• Wear a sports bra only when exercising – put a normal one on afterwards.

• Try not to wear a bra for more than 12 hours. The idea is to take it off when you’re at home in the evening.

• If you experience breast pain, see your doctor.

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