After more than four years of blogging it has come to pass that a comment is so outrageous that it warrants its own little post. The comment isn’t about abortion or contraception or shirtgate or any of the seemingly “controversial” things that I write about it. No, it is about bras. It is in response to my posting about GOOP scaring women about bras and cancer for Halloween.
I stand accused of being a shill for big lingerie.
The author of the comment is Sydney Singer, who wrote Dressed to Kill. the book that tells women bras cause cancer. A book that Paltrow’s medical expert, Dr. Sadeghi, used as a reference. Singer has posted several comments on my blog (he does so every time I write about bras), so I can only assume he wants the attention.
This is what Singer has to say and here is my reply:
First of all it’s Jen, not Jan.
I have never received money (or bras) from anyone for writing a post, but throwing around attacks instead of facts is typically a sign of a weak argument. Who exactly is Big Lingerie? Is this a group of bra executives who pay off researchers? What currency do they use (money or high-end bras?). Where is their headquarters? Are the Victoria’s Secret Angels their enforcers?
Bra mafias aside, let’s look at the studies you reference. The Hutchinson study had too few women who didn’t wear bras to draw a statistically meaningful conclusion about that group, but they did look at hours of day a bra is worn, whether there was an underwire, and the age bra wearing started. If bras caused breast cancer the number of hours of wear and age of wearing should show some association because more exposure would be worse than less exposure. It did not.
The Chinese study mentioned in GOOP and so I assume the one you referenced is in Chinese. I’m happy to look at a translated version, so please post it in the comments below. However, the English abstract doesn’t mention breast size or obesity as risk factors and instead uses variables such as “bad life incidence,” so I am concerned about its robustness to show a link between bras and breast cancer.
The Scottish study referenced by Paltrow’s expert, so the one I assume you mean, didn’t ask women about bra sizes or bra wearing. It is a retrospective chart review and the data was location of tumor, menopausal status etc. there was no mention of bra wearing at all that I could find. If there is another Scottish study, please provide a link.
What Venezuela study do you mean? This one mentioned in GOOP that is in Spanish? It is a descriptive, non-experimental, transactional study of 73 patients that has no control for recall bias. I don’t need it translated, it can’t prove that bras are connected with breast cancer.
The study from Kenya doesn’t mention bra size or obesity in the first 2 pages (what is available online for free, but that does include demographics), so that’s a concern as they are major confounders. Also, how did the authors control for recall bias?
As for ending my post with a sales pitch? This is what I said.
Ladies, wear your bra or don’t. Your choice. Heck, wear it to bed if it’s comfortable. It’s all good. If it’s digging in get a fitting from an expert, not because it could be building up toxins but because everyone should know the joy of a well-fitted bra.
I’m really not sure how anyone could mistake that as a sales pitch for bras or anything for that matter.
There are no studies to support your claims. If lymphatic obstruction (not that bras obstruct lymph flow, but I’m trying to work with your hypothesis) caused breast cancer women who have axillary lymph nodes dissected for other cancers, such as melanoma, would have a higher incidence of breast cancer on the affected side. They don’t. That pretty much ends the lymph theory right there.
I’m not worried that my bras (which are well-fitted so not tight, but that’s for comfort not cancer prevention) will cause cancer, but it is always a nice touch to end your comment wishing that someone gets cancer.
Jen Gunter MD, FRCS(C), FACOG, DABPM, ABPMR (pain medicine)