BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Health
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Background Briefings 
Medical notes 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Monday, 30 October, 2000, 16:10 GMT
Claims of bra link to cancer dismissed
Breast scan
35,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year
A British surgeon has denied claims that his study into breast pain has found any link between wearing a bra and developing cancer.

Media reports have suggested that research by Professor Robert Mansell of Cardiff University Hospital had indicated an increased risk of breast cancer among women who wear a bra.

But Professor Mansell said his study only looked at the link between wearing a bra and experiencing breast pain and cysts - not breast cancer itself.

The study of more than 100 women with pain or cysts found that incidence of pain fell by 7% after the women stopped wearing bras for three months.

I don't think women have anything to be worried about

Professor Robert Mansell, Cardiff University Hospital

Some researchers have suggested in the past that breast pain and cysts are linked to breast cancer but this view is not widely shared by doctors.

The research was carried out for a Channel 4 programme to be broadcast this week.

Speaking to BBC News Online Professor Mansell said: "The study was concerned with breast pain. It did not look at breast cancer.

"I think the confusion has come about because one of the doctors interviewed for the programme suggested that breast pain may be linked to breast cancer.

"That theory is not corroborated and is not generally agreed by doctors to be the case. We have no scientific evidence that that is the case."

Professor Mansell added that women should not be worried about wearing a bra.

"I don't think women have anything to be worried about," he said.

'No evidence'

Cancer charities also moved to reassure women. Professor Gordon McVie, director general of the Cancer Research Campaign, said the research showed no evidence of an increased risk of breast cancer.

"There is no substantiated evidence to link wearing a bra to breast cancer and I am very concerned that women will be unnecessarily worried by this suggestion.

"The study carried out in Bristol and Cardiff involved just 100 women and only set out to measure breast pain from wearing a bra.

"It was never intended to show any link between this pain and breast cancer and no link between the two has ever been proved."

A spokeswoman for the charity Breast Cancer Care said the reports of the study could alarm women.

"The study is interesting. However, it is very small and more research is needed.

"The findings need to be treated with caution and not reported out of proportion since most women in the UK wear a bra and this could cause considerable alarm."

Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer added: "There is no scientific evidence to suggest that wearing a well-fitting bra causes breast pain or breast cancer.

"A good-fitting bra supports the ligaments in the breasts to prevent them from overstretching.

"Women should be properly measured for their bras and they should be tried on to ensure a good fit."

Dr Tim Key from the Imperial Cancer Research Fund said: "This study does not look at cancer, and so should not give any concern that there is a link between wearing bras and breast cancer.

"It is a very small study which focuses on breast pain. The results suggest that there might be an effect, but it's far too early to establish a definite connection between bras and breast pain."

In the UK, approximately 35,000 women a year are diagnosed as having breast cancer and causes 13,000 deaths annually.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

19 Oct 00 | Health
Double whammy for breast cancer
16 Oct 00 | Health
Breast cancer risk identified
29 Sep 00 | Health
Breast Cancer 2000
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories