It’s estimated that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. For the entire month of October, these kinds of facts are released to stress the importance of routine self-examinations and yearly mammograms. But what should women be doing the other 11 months out of the year? It appears to me that we should focus more on prevention than just awareness. How about factors that could potentially have you avoid getting cancer in the first place such as a healthy plant-based diet, exercise, adequate rest and going braless? You read right, going braless.
The American Cancer Society states that 5% of cancers are due to genetics, while the other 95% are due to environmental factors. Our environment includes our culture and customs such as language, food and clothing. Women are taught from a very young age to wear a bra. It's a rite of passage and something to look forward to. It's no wonder that we don't think twice when we take them off and notice red indentations or swelling. We just assume it's normal and all apart of growing up. However these marks represent constriction and are causing nerve damage and lymph stagnation.
According to the groundbreaking and controversial book, Dressed to Kill, by medical anthropologist Sydney Ross Singer, a study conducted of over 2,000 women (those who’ve had breast cancer and those who haven’t) discovered that bras were the leading cause of breast cancer. The theory behind the study is that “lymph fluid cannot easily drain from a bra-constricted breast, resulting in cysts and pain." As I've mentioned before, our lymphatic system is coupled with our immune system and is responsible for eliminating toxins and waste from our bodies. However, "because the stagnant fluid cannot be adequately flushed away, waste products and toxins build in the breast tissue eventually leading to malignant tumors.” His study also found that “bra-free women have about the same incidence of breast cancer as a man and the tighter and longer a bra is worn, the higher the incidence of breast cancer. 24/7 bra wearers have over 100 times the incidence as a bra-free woman.” He also found that women who went braless noticed their breasts got perkier and firmer. That's a nice bonus!
30 Day Braless Experiment
Needless to say, this study blew my mind. When I got my first mammogram earlier this year, they discovered a cyst in my right breast. Before the exam, I had no discomfort from the cyst but afterwards, the pressure applied caused it to hurt like crazy. Cysts are like internal pimples and are warning signs of imbalances in the body. I wasn’t satisfied with my doctor’s nonchalant reaction to the cyst. I don’t want anything growing in my breasts. Which is why when I read Dr. Singer’s book, it peaked my interest. The idea that our breasts are constantly constricted and not allowed to freely dispose of toxins rang true with me so I decided to do a 30 day no bra experiment to see if the cyst would get better or heal itself all together.
I started my experiment when we went on vacation to Oregon. My husband was super supportive and told me that I should definitely give it a try. For seven days, I felt awkward/self-conscious and thought everyone was staring at my breasts (which they weren’t). I did a lot of layering: tank top or camisole, shirt, light jacket. At some points I would forget that I wasn’t wearing one. It felt so liberating. I wasn’t tugging at my bra strap or massaging my shoulders because there wasn’t anything applying pressure to them.
Once I returned from vacation, the challenge become a bit more complicated. Having to wear business type clothing during the day, I had to find ways to detract from my chest. Again, I focused on layering, light jackets, dark colors and necklaces. Out of the 30 days, I had to wear a bra only 3 times during the day and when I would run.
What I Learned
What I wasn’t expecting from this challenge was the change in the way I felt in my body. Since I developed early in life, my breasts have always been something I’ve tried to hide and not accentuate. The less I wore a bra, the more comfortable I felt in my own skin. When I would get home, instead of yanking off my bra, I now wanted to get out of my constricting pants or shoes. My body was craving space. When I would practice yoga, I could breathe easier and move with ease. Our bodies are amazing machines that can heal within the proper environment. Going braless creates the opportunity for the breasts to function properly.
I also added self-massage (another recommendation from the book) with coconut oil each night. The idea being that it helps get the lymph fluid moving while checking for any abnormalities. It’s just another way to connect with your body to help with awareness and self-love. Plus coconut oil has such amazing healing properties and none of the crazy toxins found in lotions.
Although the 30 day challenge has come and gone, I continue to go as braless as possible. The pain from the cyst has gotten better but is still there. I’m curious to see if it disappears all together. Ladies, I implore you to take control of your health. Applied knowledge is power so when you learn something and it feels right to you, go with that feeling. Our body is our temple; protect it, learn how it works and care for it.
Take the 30 Day Challenge
I'm not saying this a cure all for breast cancer. I understand that there are a multitude of factors that go into getting the disease, but what if it does contribute in some way? Our breasts fluctuate in size each month and the constriction is definitely causing discomfort, nerve damage, swelling and pain. Wouldn't you happily take off a piece of clothing if it meant it could help with your breast health?
Are you feeling discomfort or pain in your breasts? Do you notice nerve damage such as tingling in your hands and fingers? Maybe you would benefit from taking the 30 day challenge. If that is a bit extreme for you, think about how you can limit your bra usage. Maybe go braless on the weekends? Or take off your bra as soon as you get in your car after work? It's about progress, not perfection.
If you're ready to feel empowered and take on the challenge, mark your calendar for Saturday, November 1st. Try to go a full 30 days without wearing a bra as much as possible. I'll be posting tips and encouragement on Instagram so follow me @omthemoment and tag #30DAYBLCHALLENGE.
Let's create a dialogue to help think outside of the box and not let fear dictate our decisions. We have the opportunity to break the cycle of breast cancer by becoming informed participants in our health.
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