Do Underwire Bras Cause Breast Cancer?

Kelly Anne Spratt, D.O., Director of Women's Cardiovascular Health at the University of Pennsylvania Presbyterian Medical Center, answers your questions.

Q. After years of wearing an underwire bra, recently I had a sensation of real pain in one breast at the site of the underwire. For days afterward there was pain in that area and I have since stopped wearing an underwire bra but there is sometimes still pain. I've heard somewhere that wearing an underwire bra could lead to cancer. Is there any truth to this?

A. Do not be afraid of wearing these bras! It is much more likely that your bra caused you some discomfort because it has gotten out of shape from wear or washing. In addition, women's breasts change in size as well as in shape as we grow older. Many women are not routinely measured and keep getting the same size bra for years. I think you may want to go to a lingerie department that has someone who could measure you and help you with your proper size and a bra that fits you comfortably.

There is no scientific data to suggest that underwire bras cause cancer. At one time, it was believed that breast cancer came from breast trauma but even this has been disproved. Feel free to wear any bra that is comfortable, do your breast self-exam, and get an annual mammogram to help prevent breast cancer.

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