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A Suggestion that Wearing a Bra Does Not Cause Cancer

Researchers in Seattle are directing your attention to bras. Their new study focuses on an occasionally purported danger of bra-wearing:

Bra Wearing Not Associated with Breast Cancer Risk: A Population-Based Case–Control Study,” Lu Chen, Kathleen E. Malone, and Christopher I. Li, Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, epub September 5, 2014. The authors, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, report:

Despite the widespread use of bras among U.S. women and concerns in the lay media that bra wearing may increase breast cancer risk, there is a scarcity of credible scientific studies addressing this issue. The goal of the study was to evaluate the relationship between various bra-wearing habits and breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women. We conducted a population-based case–control study… No aspect of bra wearing, including bra cup size, recency, average number of hours/day worn, wearing a bra with an underwire, or age first began regularly wearing a bra, was associated with risks of either IDC [invasive ductal carcinoma] or ILC [invasive lobular carcinoma].

Melissa Healey interviewed lead author Lu Chen, for the Los Angeles Times:

“Given how common bra-wearing is,” said the study’s lead author, epidemiology doctoral student Lu Chen, “we thought this was an important question to address….” The authors were prompted to undertake their study not just by “lay media” concerns, but by a 1991 European study, which reported that among premenopausal women who wore bras, rates of breast cancer were twice as high as those among younger women who did not. That study, concluded the authors, suffered from serious methodological flaws.

If these new findings prove accurate, they further boost the argument for women to wear an emergency bra. The 2009 Ig Nobel Prize for public health was awarded to Elena N. Bodnar, Raphael C. Lee, and Sandra Marijan of Chicago, Illinois, USA, for inventing a brassiere that, in an emergency, can be quickly converted into a pair of protective face masks, one for the brassiere wearer and one to be given to some needy bystander. [The device is patented: U.S. patent # 7255627, granted August 14, 2007, “Garment Device Convertible to One or More Facemasks.”]

This video shows Dr. Bodnar accepting the Ig Nobel Prize, and performing the first public demonstration of how to deploy it:

BONUS: This video shows Dr. Bodnar, who was born and raised in Ukraine [as a young physician there, she treated victims of the Chernobyl power plant meltdown, an experience that later led her to invent the emergency bra], translating the poetry of English-speaking Scotsman William Topaz McGonagall into Ukranian, assisted by Terry Jones, a Monty Python:

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