Are Bras Bad for Breasts?

And What About Back Pain?

are bras badFor many women, leaving the house without a bra on would be akin to going outside without any pants. But new research suggests women may actually be better off without this (perceived) wardrobe staple.

Conventionally speaking, it’s long been touted that bras not only help support your breasts to relieve back pain, but also to improve posture and help prevent breast sagging as you age (raise your hand if you wear your bra 24 hours a day for this very reason, like Marilyn Monroe supposedly did … ).

Of course, bras are also widely marketed as a way to improve the appearance of your breasts … and it may be that your decision to wear a bra or go free is not one that should be based on health benefits but really does come down to simple aesthetics alone.

In fact, the new study by French researchers suggests there may be reason to ditch your bra entirely.

Bras Make Breasts Saggier?

After carefully analyzing hundreds of women’s breasts for 15 years, researchers from the University of Besançon in eastern France came up with a shocking conclusion:[i]

“Bras are a false necessity.”

Even more startling is the assertion that not only do breasts gain nothing from being supported, but they actually get saggier when a bra is worn. The study’s lead researcher, sports science expert Jean-Denis Rouillon, noted:[ii]

“If a woman begins wearing a bra from the moment breasts appear, the suspension muscles don’t work correctly, and tissues slacken.”

On the contrary, among women who went bra-less their nipples raised an average of seven millimeters in a year in relation to their shoulders.

Should You Go “Au Naturel”?

It depends on how wearing a bra makes you feel. If you find wearing a bra makes you more comfortable, keep doing it. If not, there may be no harm in going without. Rouillon said the study is not representative of the entire population but rather focuses on young women aged 18 to 35. Ditching your bra when you’re already in your 40s or beyond is not likely to have any benefit, he noted.[iii]

That said, there is some speculation that wearing a bra, particularly one that is too tight, may block the flow of your lymph nodes, preventing the elimination of toxins and thereby increasing your risk of cancer. While this hasn’t been proven by published research, it does have anecdotal support, including data from over 4,000 women that showed those who wore bras 24 hours a day had a 125-fold greater risk of breast cancer than those who did not wear a bra.[iv]

It’s also been speculated that metal underwires could attract electromagnetic fields or interfere with acupuncture points on your body.

5 Red Flags of an Improper Fit

An improperly fitting bra — either one that is too tight or does not provide enough support — may be worst of all, as experts say they can lead to headaches, poor posture and, frequently, back pain, especially if you have large breasts. So if you choose to wear a bra, be sure it doesn’t show any of these “red flags” that signal an improper fit:

  • Breasts spilling out of the cups (a larger cup size is needed)
  • The bra riding up your back (you need a smaller band size)
  • Digging in at the shoulders or armpits (wider straps and a larger cup size may help)
  • Sagging bust (look for shorter straps or a more supportive style/fabric)
  • Improperly positioned underwire (the wire should be completely under your breasts)

According to some experts, you should get professional bra fitting every six months or so, as bra size and shape changes frequently, especially if you’re pregnant or nursing.

Are Your Breasts Giving You an Aching Back?

It could be that your bra is being unfairly blamed — especially if you’ve been fitted by a professional and you still have back pain. No matter what your body type or breast size, if you have never looked to the foundational causes of your back pain, it’s virtually impossible to become pain-free, because the muscle imbalances you’re living with will only cause the pain to re-occur and worsen with time.

You simply must get your muscles into the proper balance in order to relieve your pain, for good.

are bras badThe Lose the Back Pain System takes you step-by-step through the process of identifying the exact muscle imbalances you have, then helps you implement proven strategies to help reduce and manage your pain so you can focus on correcting the dysfunction(s) that are causing it. If you want to end your back pain permanently, stop blaming your bra and start fixing the muscle imbalances that are at the root of your pain.


Filed Under: Women's Health
Written By: Updated:

Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFTPain Relief Expert, Post Rehab Specialist.

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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4 thoughts on “Are Bras Bad for Breasts?”

  1. m.c.alexis says:


  2. Star says:

    Been braless since 1971 and don’t regret it [ college ban the bra thing ] ma said I will sag when I hit 50 I said look ma no sag now 60 still the same .

  3. Kate says:

    My breast feel better if I remove the under wires and side metal support (that are located by the
    Lymph nodes). I think the blood flow issue is a strong argument to consider. I often go without a bra to give my body bra relief… Some bras are tight and the ones that cris-cross on the back seem to
    contribute to muscle tension and back pain. I enjoyed burning my bra in the sixties! I do weight exercises that strengthen my pectorials, that hold up my breast and at 70 my breast are stil perky!

  4. Bouncedancer says:

    I actually like to wear my bras. The engineering has gotten awesome, and I like how my size B breasts are nicely coddled inside the cups, If women have pendulous breasts, it looks hecka bad to not wear a bra, as the breasts will be dingle-dangling all over the place, which is really distracting.

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