by: Carina Wolff
Boobs are a frequently discussed body part, as they play a role in everything from reproduction to body image. So it should come as no surprise that there also many myths about breasts, whether it’s a trick to get bigger boobs your friend told you when you were a teenager or a habit you heard that supposedly gives you breast cancer. Knowing what’s true and what’s not when it comes to your boobs can help you better understand your body — and worry less about things that aren’t true.
“The breasts are undoubtedly an important part of the body,” Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, M.D., M.S. tells Bustle. “Breasts not only have a primary function in milk production, but also can play a role in sexual arousal. Some cultures even deem the breasts to be a symbol of womanhood and femininity. Therefore, it is no surprise that over time breasts have become a much talked about topic in which there has been some misinformation spread from generation to generation and simply accepted as fact.”
It’s tempting to believe everything you hear about your boobs, but it turns out, there are a lot of myths about the body part floating around. Here are nine old wives tales about breast that aren’t true, according to experts.
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Turns out wearing a bra to bed won’t help prevent boobs sagging down the line. “There is really no evidence to lend support to this commonly-believed myth,” says Okeke-Igbokwe. “There are several factors that may contribute to [sagging] breasts, and aging is one inevitable factor. Breast ptosis [breast sagging] is part of…aging.” And it’s nothing to be ashamed about.
There’s nothing weird at all about having boobs that are different from each other. “Breast asymmetry, including size, shape, and areolar position, is the rule rather than the exception,” plastic surgeon Adam Kolker, MD tells Bustle. In fact, Kolker says a majority of women have some degree of asymmetry in their boobs.
It’s worth noting, however, that if you feel like something is just not quite right or you suddenly notice a dramatic change in what is usually normal for you, then it’s important to get checked out by a physician, just in case.
Boobs do more than just provide milk to your offspring. “Breasts and nipples have many nerve endings and can add to a woman’s sexual experience,” Dr. Nicole Scott, OB/GYN at IU Health, tells Bustle. “Some woman can even orgasm from breast simulation.”
In reality, only a small percentage of breast cancers are attributed to genetics. “Although a family history or certain genetic mutations (such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations) can certainly increase your risk, many women who develop breast cancer do not have a family history,” Dr. Tarah Ballinger, breast oncologist at IU Health, tells Bustle. “”This means that even without relatives affected by breast cancer, it is important to discuss breast cancer screening with your doctor.”
Some women with breast implants fear that it may increase their risk of cancer, but this is untrue. “Evidence from multiple studies shows that neither saline nor silicone breast implants increase the risk of breast cancer,” says Ballinger. “It is important for women with implants to be aware of how their new breasts look and feel, and to alert their doctor to any changes. Mammograms are still possible in women with implants, and are just as important as part of regular health screening.”
Wearing your undergarments to bed isn’t as dangerous as you think. “Sleeping in a bra, even if it has underwire, has not been shown to increase breast cancer risk,” says Ballinger. “This myth stems from the thought that wearing a bra might restrict lymphatic flow in the breast and result in a build-up of ‘toxins.’ However, in reality, bras do not restrict lymph flow. Surveys of women about their bra-wearing habits have not shown a connection between nighttime bra wearing and cancer risk.”
You may have heard that larger boobs make more milk that has more nutrients — but this is just a myth. “A study done in 2016 demonstrated that the breast size and breast side dominance doesn’t affect the quality of the milk,” Christine Greves, MD, OB/GYN tells Bustle. Milk from a small boobs is just as good as milk from a larger boobs.
If you have a pain in your breast, it’s tempting to jump to conclusions and assume the worst. But actually, breast pain is rarely associated with breast cancer. “Breast pain, or mastalgia, is more commonly associated with hormonal changes, fibrocystic changes, cysts, and other benign conditions,” says Kolker.
However, if the pain persists daily for more than one week, is localized to one specific area of the breast, or becomes progressively worse, an evaluation by a physician is recommended.
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Extra trips to the gym can’t make your boobs get any bigger. “Although strength training focused on the pectoralis major muscle may increase chest muscle mass, this rarely translates to breast size increase,” says Kolker. “In most cases, when women undertake cardio exercise, strength training, or both, the fat-component of breast tissue atrophies and breast volume is lost.”
Just like any body part, breasts are complex, but you’re better off not believing everything you hear.
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