By Sola Ogundipe
Women who go braless may actually be better off health wise, if results of a 15-year study in France are anything to go by. The brand new study shows that brassieres (bras) provide virtually no benefits to breasts and, on the contrary, may actually be harmful to breasts over time.
Researchers spent all this time studying the breasts of over 330 French women, and concluded that wearing a bra does not prevent sagging or ease back pain as commonly thought and even warned that breasts do get saggier with a bra.
Taking measurements with a caliper, the researchers found that by not wearing a bra, muscles around the breast actually strengthened and the nipple 7 mm per year toward the shoulder. However, they did not recommend all women abandon their bras since their muscles had probably already degraded.
According to Jean-Denis Rouillon, a professor at the University of Franche-Comté in Besançon, “Medically, physiologically, anatomically, the breast does not benefit from being deprived of gravity.”
In the study conducted at the university’s hospital, Rouillon and others measured and examined the breasts of more than 300 women, aged 18 and 35, taking note of how the additional support provided by bras affects the body over time. (It should be noted the study does not mention breast size.)
Overall, they found that women who did not use bras benefited in the long term, as they developed more muscle tissue to provide natural support. They noticed that in women who went braless, the nipples gained a higher lift, in relation to the shoulders.
When bras are worn, the restrictive material prevents such tissue from growing, which may actually accelerate sagging, the study concluded.
A 28-year-old woman, who participated in the research, found that she breathes easier without the constraints of a bra. Initially, she was a little reluctant to the idea of running without a bra, but got started and after five minutes, had no trouble at all.
Despite the findings, the researchers said it would be dangerous to advise all women to take off their bras based on the study’s sample, which may not be representative of the population.
They cautioned women who have worn bras for a long time — several decades — from following the recommendation since they would not benefit from taking off their bras now.
Nevertheless, being braless is still largely seen as the exception rather than the rule and most ladies may not be as ready to throw away their bras just yet.
While going braless is fast becoming politically correct and fashionable, the undergarment industry has continued to come up with increasingly structured and expensive designs, raking up to $11 billion revenue every year according to Business Week.