Is Wearing a Bra Good or Bad For You?

Here's the truth about bras.

Whether you prefer a push-up bra, bralette, strapless bra, or another style, you're probably wondering if the rumors are true that bras can actually harm your breasts. Considering the conflicting opinions about them, it's not surprising that many people are confused about bras. We checked with the experts to see if the risk is real.

What the Experts Say

Dr. Neil Zemmel, a plastic surgeon, explains there are no linked health benefits or risks to wearing a bra or choosing to skip it. Patricia Geraghty, a nurse practitioner, agrees and points out, "We don't have any evidence that says going braless hurts you." Geraghty mentions that the opposite is also true, and that there is no evidence that says wearing a bra will hurt your health.

The bottom line? You can choose to either wear or skip a bra without worrying about any health consequences.

Bras Don't Cause Cancer

You may have heard some of the rumors about bras affecting lymph flow in the body and causing cancer. Some people believe that bras allegedly restrict the ability of lymph fluid to move, so toxins build up in the breasts. According to the American Cancer Society, bras don't cause cancer. The organization points to a study that included 1,500 women and didn't find a connection between breast cancer and bras. Researchers mentioned that there was no evidence to show that bras increase the risk of cancer.

Dr. Amber A. Guth told Health.com, "The way the lymphatics work is they go from the edge of the breasts to the nipple area, then out into the underarm. So it's not being compressed or stopped by a bra because it's happening away from where the underwire is."

Bras Don't Cause or Prevent Sagging

Whether bras can prevent or cause sagging is a frequent debate and opinions differ. A French study that examined the experiences of 50 women who wore bras found that there wasn't a significant difference in sagging. In addition, Geraghty explains that going braless doesn't cause sagging breasts. Likewise, wearing a bra won't prevent sagging because it's usually caused by age and stretched ligaments.

Poor-Fitting Bras Can Cause Problems

Although experts point out that wearing a bra is generally safe, they make one exception. If you wear a poor-fitting bra, it can cause problems such as skin damage or pain. A bra that is either too tight or too big can lead to issues. You may experience back, neck, or shoulder pain, according to one study. Another group of researchers found that poor-fitting bras may cause skin abrasions. From bad posture to shoulder grooves, the wrong bra can make you miserable.

The Choice Is Yours

There are no supported health benefits or risks to wearing or skipping a bra, as long as the one you choose fits well. Ultimately, the choice is yours. If you do decide to wear one, consider getting a professional fitting to make sure you're buying the right size and style.