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Author Topic: Article by Ralph L. Reed on bras and breast cancer
HedgeGirl
The Red and the Green Stamps


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I got this from my "friend" today, the one who compulsively forwards everything she gets to everyone she knows. I was sure I'd seen it before, and came here looking for a debunking, but I can't find a snopes page that discusses it. Please help!

quote:
Bras and Breast Cancer
by Ralph L. Reed, Ph.D.

Although I am an environmental chemist (Ph.D in biochemistry), I have been doing a lot of literature research on breast cancer since I saw an article on the National Library of medicine database over a year ago. That article documented an increase in breast cancer rates between women who do wear bras
versus those that do not.

That Harvard study fascinated me and I searched the medical literature for possible explanations. In January 1996, I discovered the book by Singer and Grismaijer and their explanation of impaired lymphatic flow intrigued me. I have since read everything that I can find on lymphatic flow. What I have found has amazed me, but that is another story. I can supply you with lots
of info if you like. In essence, what Singer and Grismaijer found was that the odds of getting breast cancer dramatically increased with bra-wearing over 12 hours per day.

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.

The results of this study are compelling, even considering that it was not a "controlled study" for other risk factors. Bear in mind that known (published in medical journals) risk factors for breast cancer are mostly in the range of less than three-fold differences. It should also be noted that Singer and Grismaijer surveyed bra-wearing behavior of the past, which is
excellent for a disease with such a long development period. In their book, the authors show how most of the known risk factors can be related to bra-wearing behavior and/or the lymphatic system.

For example, breast feeding and pregnancy cause full development of the mammary lymphatics. Also, women of higher economic status have higher breast cancer rates, and one would expect that they would wear their bras more hours per day. Women who excercise have lower risk, which could relate to
better lymphatic circulation (and I would add, more breast movement).

To this discussion, I would like to add that lymphatic circulation in many tissues (especially the primary lymphatics) are highly dependent on MOVEMENT. When you sit for a long time on an airplane flight, your feet and ankles can swell, because lymphatic circulation goes to near zero. Wearing a
bra, especially a constricting one with underwires, and especially to bed, prevents normal lymphatic flow and would likely lead to anoxia (lower than normal oxygen content), which has been related to fibrosis, which has been linked to increased cancer risk.

Women evolved under conditions where there was BREAST MOVEMENT with every step that they took when they walked or ran. My reading of the scientific literature about lymphatic flow shows me that this may be as important as the constriction factor. Every subtle bounce of the breast while moving,
walking, running, etc. gently massages the breast and increases lymphatic flow and thus cleans the breast of toxins and wastes that arise from cellular metabolism.

Of course, there may be other mechanisms for the damage that bras apparently cause. One such mechanism could be temperature. Breasts are external organs and have a naturally lower temperature. Cancers can be temperature-dependent. Breast cancer is hormone-dependent. Temperature can alter hormone function. Breast temperature changes throughout the monthly cycle.

All these facts are from the medical literature. By whatever mechanism, someone will eventually explain why Singer and Grismaijer found a 125-fold difference in cancer rates between bra-free breasts and those constricted by 24-hour-per-day bra-wearing.

If you haven't already done so, I suggest that you read the book by Singer and Grismaijer (Dressed to Kill,Avery Press, 1995). (By the way, I have no connection to the authors; I think that they live in Canada.)

Also, just for an interesting experiment, the next time you walk down the street, notice visually how constricting bras are. On many women you can actually see "dents" around the sides of their chests where there bras are, even in something as opaque as a black t-shirt.

A physical therapist friend of mine, after reading Dressed to Kill, said that she was amazed at what she saw in her practice at a local medical clinic. She noticed how many women have red creases and grooves on the their bodies caused by their bras. Singer and Grismajer also suggest that you simply stop wearing one for two weeks and see how you feel.

By the way, I have heard that they are currently working on a new study. The research is to study whether benign fibrocystic breast disease can be treated by stopping bra-wearing for eight weeks. That should be very interesting; this time they are involving medical doctors, from what I've
heard.

Years ago, many people thought that the idea of cigarettes causing lung cancer was funny. Even if further research with highly controlled studies only shows a difference of 5-fold, or even 2-fold, it will be no laughing matter.

---------------------------------------------
The author, Ralph L. Reed, Ph.D. can be reached at reedr@ucs.orst.edu


I looked this guy up at Oregon State University, where he is, in fact, listed as a Research Associate. The e-mail address is wrong, but probably just because it's old.

I also Googled him, and, although my search was complicated by the existence of another Ralph Reed, apparently some kind of fundy type who rants about evil women's libbers who don't wear bras , I found the same article on an "all-natural lifestyle" site, some kind of crackpot health tips site, and this site, which looks a bit more credible at first but also reproduces the "antiperspirants cause breast cancer" UL.

So it's obviously real, in that some guy named Ralph L. Reed does have a PhD, does work at Oregon State, and did write this article or some form thereof; I saw a link to the book he cites on Amazon; but obviously these views have not had much impact on the medical establishment thus far, or my Google would have turned up at least one actual citation in an actual journal.

On the one hand, if there really are all these women walking around with bras so tight that they cause deep red grooves in their flesh, that's probably not a good thing, even if it doesn't actually cause cancer. On the other, the guy's documentation sucks (it's neither specific nor verifiable, in most instances) and I have a hard time believing that longer average lifespans, increased use of estrogen replacement after menopause (and the concomitant increase in post-menopausal lifespan), declines in breastfeeding rates, increasingly sedentary lifestyles, and other lifestyle factors don't have more to do with breast cancer rates than the humble bra.

What do y'all think?


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rossdawg
The Red and the Green Stamps


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I had a friend in college who went around and gave lectures telling women about not wearing bras but he didn't have any scientific study or even a a degree. He usually gave these lectures at the Study Hall Pub at 3 in the morning.
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Roo
The Red and the Green Stamps


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I'm not the best searcher on the board but I found this article which suggests that breast size (well specifically bra cup size) may be a risk factor for breast cancer. My contention would be (sourceless) that the larger a woman's breasts, the more likely she is to wear a bra, and for a greater percentage of the time.

So while there may be a correlation between the amount of time a woman wears a bra and the incidence of breast cancer, I would be surprised if there is a causal link.

The search-gods of the board should be able to provide more cites if required.

Slightly OT, are there any women here that wear a bra to bed? The only time I did that was the very first day I wore a bra. I was a bit excited.

quote:
Every subtle bounce of the breast while moving,
walking, running, etc. gently massages the breast...

Obviously not someone who has run while braless. Gently massages is *not* the description I would use to describe how it feels!

Roo "ouch" ian


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Kathy B
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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I think I found his Harvard study. It found a significant decrease in the incidence of breast cancer in women who did not wear bras, but the author feels that the decrease was related to breast size and obesity, not bra wearing. (the P= stuff is his statistical measure of the correlation; emphasis added b me)
quote:
Hsieh CC,  Trichopoulos D.
Eur J Cancer. 1991;27(2):131-5.

Department of Epidemology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.

Bra cup size and handedness were studied as possible risk factors for breast cancer. Data for 3918 cases and 11,712 controls from 7 centres were used to examine the association of handedness with laterality of breast cancer; data for 2325 cases and 7008 controls from 4 centres were used to assess the relation of bra cup size to breast cancer risk. There was a suggestive (P about 0.10) association of handedness with breast cancer laterality: odds ratio of a left-handed (or ambidextrous) woman having a left-sided cancer 1.22 (95% CI 0.96-1.56). Handedness may affect the lateral occurrence of breast cancer, although this tumour is in general more common in the left breast, possibly because this breast is usually slightly larger. Premenopausal women who do not wear bras had half the risk of breast cancer compared with bra users (P about 0.09), possibly because they are thinner and likely to have smaller breasts. Among bra users, larger cup size was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer (P about 0.026), although the association was found only among postmenopausal women and was accounted for, in part, by obesity. These data suggest that bra cup size (and conceivably mammary gland size) may be a risk factor for breast cancer.


Singer & Grismaijer's book has been severely crticized for poor methodology From The Society for Women's Health Research on Internet Myths and Women's Health

quote:
Sherry Marts, Ph.D., Scientific Director of the Society for Women's Health Research, estimates that the "bras cause breast cancer" urban legend, which circulates through email, has existed since the late 1960's (when she first heard the myth at a slumber party). The legend was perpetuated in the 1995 book by Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer entitled Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Bras and Breast Cancer. According to the About.com Women's Health site's review of the book, Singer and Grismaijer claim that they surveyed over 4700 women and discovered that "100% of women with breast cancer wear bras." The authors hypothesize that bras inhibit lymphatic circulation, which leads to a buildup of cancer-causing "toxins" in the breast. The authors' theory is developed further in the email, which reprints an article from a webzine called "Blazing Tattles." This article suggests that "toxic fumes" contained in polyester bras (attributed to laundry detergent residue) are absorbed by the breasts and offers as evidence a study that discovered reduced sperm development and cellular changes in 24 dogs that wore continuously polyester underpants for two years.

Among the many problems with the email and the book:

1. The small sample size of surveyed women did not allow for control, nor did it examine other risk factors for breast cancer (such as family history).
2. Bras are not likely to have an effect on lymphatic circulation (unless they are worn too tightly). Regardless, lymphatic circulation does not "remove toxins" from the breast.
3. The dog study examined testes, a very different type of tissue from breasts. Moreover, the study did not find evidence of cancer growth in the dogs that wore polyester underwear.
4. Singer and Grismaijer claim that "100% of women with breast cancer wear bras," but they fail to reveal the percentage of women who wear bras and do not have breast cancer (which is likely to be near 100%).


The page also discusses antiperspirants and toxic tampons & refers the reader to snopes on both of those

Kathy "he runneth over on cups" B.

--------------------
The plural of "anecdote" is not "data."


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rossdawg
The Red and the Green Stamps


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3. The dog study examined testes, a very different type of tissue from breasts. Moreover, the study did not find evidence of cancer growth in the dogs that wore polyester underwear.


I'm sorry....... WHat?

ross "my dog insisted on cotton boxers" dawg


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Chava
The Red and the Green Stamps


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There's a somewhat different email address on the Oregon State University web site. I tried sending an email to reedr@orst.edu. It hasn't bounced in the last 30 seconds. I'll see if he responds.

Chava


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The Cat In The Hat
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
24 dogs that wore continuously polyester underpants for two years.

My underwear is cotton some of the time.


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HedgeGirl
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by Kathy B:
I think I found his Harvard study. It found a significant decrease in the incidence of breast cancer in women who did not wear bras, but the author feels that the decrease was related to breast size and obesity, not bra wearing.

That would make a lot more sense, wouldn't it? Considering that most medical sources I've run across consider overweight and sedentary women to be at increased risk for breast cancer.

quote:
According to the About.com Women's Health site's review of the book, Singer and Grismaijer claim that they surveyed over 4700 women and discovered that "100% of women with breast cancer wear bras."

Wow, there's a shocking statistic. Almost 100% of the women I know wear bras, but they don't all have breast cancer. Spooky. I bet that 100% of the women in this study drink water and eat bread, too.

quote:
24 dogs that wore continuously polyester underpants for two years.

Somebody call the SPCA. That's just disturbing. And where's the study on the dogs who wore underwear that continually morphs from polyester to cotton and back?


You rock, Kathy B! I'm going to send this site to my "friend" and her e-mail list (and keep it for the next time, because I know she will send this to me again the next time she gets it...).

quote:
Originally posted by Roo:

"Every subtle bounce of the breast while moving, walking, running, etc. gently massages the breast..."

Obviously not someone who has run while braless. Gently massages is *not* the description I would use to describe how it feels!


I'm glad I'm not the only person who thought that!! I even have to hold 'em down with one arm while brushing my teeth!

Thanks for the input, everyone ... I feel all validated now .

Hedge"continuously cotton underwear"Girl


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RickKitchen
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by HedgeGirl:
I also Googled him

Completely off-topic, but I loved the use of Google as a verb. I'll have to remember that.

Rick "coin of the realm" Kitchen


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just Lisa
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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Someone had to say it:

Thank you once again, Kathy B, for keeping us abreast of current research.

Li "Just under the wire" sa

--------------------
Never make fun of a man's fish, especially if it is 40 feet tall and aluminum.


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sam
The Red and the Green Stamps


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I, too, support Kathy's research.
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