Every week, the Scoop examines alarming new claims to help you make sense of the latest health research.
A French researcher made major waves last week when he dropped a shocker on the world, announcing a new studyÃ‚Â finds wearing a bra can cause premature bra droop. The question on everyone's minds now: IsÃ‚Â proud-to-be-bra-free Miley Cyrus onto something?
The 15-year French study looked at 330 young women and found that breasts constrained by bras didn't develop the muscle and skin tone that can keep them naturally firm, according to the study author, who was interviewed by a French radio station earlier this month. Women in his study who ditched their boulder holders, however, saw measured improvement in the perkiness of their pair.
DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t trash your underwires and demi-cups just yet, though. Experts have cast a skeptical eye on the unpublished study, which joins a long list of later-debunked research blaming bras for everything from circulation problems to breast cancer. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The preliminary results are intriguing, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not clear if the researcher looked at women who only had smaller breasts, which donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t sag as much over time, or if he included women of all breast sizes,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor of ob-gyn at Yale University School of Medicine. Ã¢â‚¬Å“And did he factor in that gravity naturally takes its toll on all body tissue? With so many variables to account for, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to accept the results.Ã¢â‚¬Â
ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not to say that bras have zero effect on your health. An ill-fitting brassiere can leave you with neck and shoulder pain, as well as stooped posture. Garments made of synthetic, non-breathable fabric can trap sweat-loving bacteria, leading to skin issues like rashes and breakouts, says Minkin. Also, if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve ever hit the gym sans sports bra, you know that even a little bit of boob bounce can result in serious breast and nipple pain.
Still worried about sag? ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no solid proof that wearing a bra makes a difference, says Minkin. The real droopage offender is the breast growth and shrinkage that happens when a woman diets, gets pregnant, and/or breast-feeds. Anything that makes breasts expand and contract weakens the surrounding skin and tissues, which makes them lose elasticity and take on a deflated appearance, says Minkin.
The Verdict: Whether you prefer hanging loose or keeping your girls under wraps, wearing a bra is mostly about comfort. So no matter which side of the fence you fall on, there's no need to freak outÃ¢â‚¬”your choice wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a major effect on your health.
photo: Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock