(Photo : Creative Commons)
One of the most successful selling points for women's braziers over the years has been that they prevent one's bust from sagging, offer upper torso support and can alleviate back pain.
"Support can be beautiful," as the advertising slogan used to go.
But, now, scientists in France have announced the findings of a 15-year-old study that suggests bras not only don't help eliminate back stress, but may actually contribute to saggier breasts.
Researcher Jean-Denis Rouillon, a sports science expert from the University of Besançon in eastern France, claims "bras are a false necessity." according to The Local.
"Medically, physiologically, anatomically - breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity," said Rouillon. "On the contrary, they get saggier with a bra."
That causes women in the Los Angeles area to perk up and take notice, but wonder how practical the conclusions of the study are to women living in today's America.
"No bras? That sounds great," said Susan Garcia-Ramos, an office supply manager from from Alhambra, "but, somehow I don't think my bosses would approve."
Amy Perez, a gas station attendant from the Boyle Heights neighborhood, laughed when she was told about the study, but then shrugged the idea of bra-less living as ridiculous. Then again, she added, "I might try it if you can give me something that works better than a bra."
Apparently, Rouillon and his fellow researchers didn't think that far ahead.
The researchers spent years measuring the changes in the breasts of 330 women using a simple slide rule and caliper at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire, or, University Hospital, in Besançon, where the research was carried out.
Rouillon said he found no evidence bras helped wearers ease back pain. Instead, the chest supports appeared to exacerbate the problem.
According to another report in The Connexion, the study concluded breasts would gain more tone and support by themselves, without bra constraints.
Bras, the research team said, limit the growth of supporting breast tissues, leaving the breast to wither and degrade more quickly.
"Well, that's not encouraging," said caregiver Danielle Bixby from West Los Angeles. "I know my boyfriend would love it if I went around without a bra. He'd love it."
The study found women who took off their bras permanently experienced a natural lift in their nipples each subsequent braless year. It was also determined the non-bra-wearers developed firmer breasts over time and saw their stretch marks fade.
And at least some women who participated in the study reported an easing in their back pains.
Brenda Harris, a 25-year-old restaurant worker from L.A.'s Silver Lake district, scoffed when she was told about a 28-year-old study participant in France who proudly announced she hadn't worn a bra for two years.
"How can I not wear a bra? What else is there?" Harris said. "Telling me to go without a bra? I don't think so."
Rouillon clarifies that the study results don't mean all women should throw their bras away.
"It would be dangerous to advise all women to stop wearing their soutien-gorge, as the women involved were not a representative sample of the population," Rouillon told The Connexion.
So, while his initial results, "validated the hypothesis that the bra is a false 'need', he said, it's questionable whether women who have worn bras for a long time would see any benefit whatsoever from going sans-bras.
"All this sounds really good, because I really hate having to wear a bra. It hurts all the time, Harris said, "but I really can't do that with my job. Where do you think we are --- France?"