What causes breast cancer?

The other day one of my friends told me that if you wear your bra to bed you'll get breast cancer because it cuts off the circulation.

She also said you'll get it if you get hit in the chest a lot. It's got me kind of worried, is it true?

Hey girl, first thing first: take a deep breath! Those things your friend told you are common urban myths about breast cancer that aren't true. I did a li’l research and here’s the lowdown on those disputed rumors.

Putting the pieces together

Breast cancer, like other forms of cancer, is caused by mutations in DNA. While scientists do not know exactly what causes it, they have identified some things that increase your risk of getting breast cancer. Some of these factors are within your control (eating healthy, exercising) and some aren’t (gender, race, family history). And please know that these risk factors don’t mean you’ll def get breast cancer someday—they just mean you’re more prone to it, and you should get regular checkups from your doc. There are some clear risk factors, and there are some that are disputed. These less-certain factors (where a study may have indicated they can cause breast cancer, but others don’t confirm it) are where your friend’s rumors steam from.

The not-so-painful truth

Good news? Any chest injury is not a risk factor for getting breast cancer. Bad news? Getting hit in the chest hurts a lot. The area around your breast is much more sensitive than other parts of your body. While getting an injury there won’t cause breast cancer, it will cause a lot of pain and is still something worth avoiding.

The bra debacle 

Here’s the tricky one with a clear answer. This rumor that wearing a bra causes breast cancer has been going around for a while. One study indicated wearing them 24 hours a day could increase the risk, but the study’s research methods have been criticized and eventually it was deemed inconclusive. The only difference wearing a bra at night makes is your own comfort. If it’s more comfy for you to give the support a break, I’d go without a bra. You’ll be fine either way.

Power in numbers

Know that in the world of science, many studies are conducted. In order for something to be a scientific fact, it needs to be checked over and over again. So, it's fine to wear a bra while you're catching some shut eye.

Hope this helps, girl, and don’t be afraid to do a fact check on any more controversial things your friends tell you. It’s all about being a good journalist (we should know!).

Infinite xoxo’s,
Alyssa B.
THINK YOU'VE GOT A BODY BLUNDER? CLICK HERE to submit your own problem to be answered on Girl Talk!


1/24/2010 7:00:00 AM