Here we are in the month of Mary, Our Mother…oh, wait, that’s just us Catholics.
Here we are in “Breast Cancer Awareness Month”, a time needed only for people who have been living under a rock for the last thirty years as the disease has taken a horrible toll on the women of the industrialized world and the victims and their families seek to make everyone notice.
Yes, we are aware. And we are aware that the last hundred years have been particularly devastating. While present in the historical record since the Egyptians, breast cancer was quite rare before 1910. The question we must ask is why is there now so much of it – and why all the cash dumped into research is dealing with treatment more than cause and prevention.
As the decades of the 20th century rolled along, millions of women – wives, mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, and beloved friends – were diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. An astounding number survived the process of “treatment” for the disease involving body mutilation, intentional poisoning, and nuclear targeting.
Now we honor them and their ordeals – and in that number I include seven of my own relatives, including three who died of breast cancer metastasis. Everywhere – sports arenas, streets, grocery stores – we see pink accents, t-shirts, hats and more that remind us of the victims of a disease that the medical community tells us has a mystery cause. And, of course, we have to raise money to get to the bottom of that.
In addition to those millions of women, and even more millions who died of the disease, are those of us who have, since our teen years, lived in terror of contracting breast cancer. The reason being that the American Cancer Society, The Komen Foundation, and other cancer organizations report that 70% of the women who contract breast cancer have no family history of it. To girls and women everywhere, that is a frightening statistic. Any of us could be next.
To figure out what’s causing women with no genetic predisposition to contract a disease that was fairly uncommon before the 20th century, the above mentioned “non-profits” raise millions of dollars every year to fund research that supposedly seeks to solve that puzzle.
In the last thirty years, that research has produced some answers that are very much worth knowing, i.e., there are multiple types of breast cancer. Some forms are hormone receptive, some are in the milk ducts, etc. Each now has a specific treatment protocol, rather than the one size fits all that used to be par for the course when breast cancer surfaced. The efforts have produced improved survival rates and “early detection” has helped.
But, and this is a serious question, what is causing the geometric progression of diagnoses. It can’t just be improved screening, despite the annual excess radiation mammography exposes women to, and the proscribed breast massage, uh, shower routine that the medical community recommends. And still, women and their bed partners find lumps, no different than has always been.
Among the research topics financed and pursued with a vengeance by the breast cancer industry itself – and it is an industry – has been diet and environmental factors. At this point we know that alcohol consumption is supposedly a contributor, and fatty diets have been studied ad nauseum, despite our ancestors having a far more fat laden diet with less of the disease. Also studied over and over have been exercise habits, age of first pregnancies – or no pregnancies – and whether or not women breastfeed.
What has NOT been a topic of sponsored research regarding cause by the breast cancer industry is the use of hormonal contraceptives (a known carcinogen, actually, and tightly controlled in most countries, but not the United States), and whether or not women wearing foundation garments (commonly known as bras) have any bearing on disease stats.
In fact, on the various breast cancer “non-profit” sites, the entire notion that bras may cause breast cancer, with underwires or without, is called a myth, and all state that there is no peer reviewed research reporting any such results.
THAT, my friends, is a BIG FAT LIE. There are a handful of studies that say just that, and the conclusion is purposefully being suppressed.
The studies that reported virtually the same results – that extensive foundation wearing contributes to the skyrocketing breast cancer rates – came from multiple countries, including the United States (Harvard, 1991), France, China, and Spain. These results are close to identical to the mega correlative study produced by medical anthropologists in the early 1990s and published in a book titled Dressed to Kill that was soundly shouted down by the garment industry AND the breast cancer industry for not being double blind. (A reviewer on the Amazon.com site claims that a double blind study is really for drug testing and for this sort of study, surveys are the only way to get answers. That actually makes sense.) The studies state, emphatically, that women who wear bras 24/7 have a 3 in 4 chance of developing the disease; more than 12 hours a day, 1 in 7; less than 12 hours – 1 in somewhere between 125 and 152; and women who never wear foundations have roughly the same chances as men of developing breast cancer.
Hard to argue with the results when every study is reporting the same thing.
The theory of why this is so is that the compression caused by the elastic around the middle and against breast tissue blocks the flow of lymph which moves waste material, including cancer cells, through the body to be expelled. The idea there is that the cancer cells get trapped where they otherwise would not be and end up turning into tumors.
Maybe we should have all taken high school anatomy so that concept would be more easily digestible to the women with an emotional investment in the disease.
This may not explain ALL breast cancers certainly, but it would make the historical record on breast cancer make sense. As it turns out, foundation garments have been around for roughly the same amount of time as breast cancer has been reported. Foundations started out as tight bindings around the chest, moved on to more sling-like things where breasts were flattened against the chest wall as well as suspended from the shoulders and have been either observed in art or found in trash piles ever since. As these garments would have been the belongings of monied women who could afford the extra material, that medical doctors reported incidences of the disease for the whole of recorded history should come as no surprise. As always, the people with money could actually afford to be seen by physicians.
But for the purposes of this discussion, the subject for today is more the spandex wonders that help us defy gravity.
[whistle] Guys, pay attention. This is important…if ironic that in trying to be more sexually appealing by wearing a bra, ya’ll are more turned on when we don’t.
The modern bra, contrary to popular belief, was invented by a woman – a New York socialite who bought a dress that needed something other than a corset to lift, separate and otherwise keep things in place, which is the whole reason the rest of us wear the damn things. This New York woman used two silk scarves and some ribbon, later patented the “invention,” and sold it to Warner’s where the cup system was invented by yet another woman.
(So, really, it’s not men’s fault since it’s us girls who insist that holding things in place, and up higher than normal is the proper way to go about dressing. Gentlemen have gone along with that.) (Of course, it’s probably less distracting for them.)
Seriously, guys, eyes up here. 😉
Which brings us to the controversy surrounding the “Save the Ta Tas” online campaign that has garnered nothing less than scorn from women who have suffered through the mutilation, poisoning, fear, and pain of modern breast cancer. The idea behind the campaign was for women to take off the slingshots for one day. The copy on the original article was poorly written, and as a result, statements like, “Taking off your bra for a day isn’t going to do a damn thing to help women with breast cancer” popped up all over the internet.
Well, it may not help the women who already have the disease, but it might well save someone else from getting it. Or at least start the process of strengthening the muscles, ligaments and so forth that atrophy with foundation wearing and help make a woman less self-conscious about her natural appearance and be willing to go without for at least 12 hours a day.
That the entire idea of limiting bra wearing in order to prevent a horrible disease is the least bit controversial, should tell us a lot about the state of American womanhood (and that women will swallow whatever the “experts” tell them they need to know, true or not, when it comes to potentially losing a part of being a woman).
Like every other culture on earth, American women tend to get wrapped up in body image. It’s part of who we are. Some semblance of fashion and looking our best is on that second X chromosome. However, in the United States, it is not just looking our best, but needing to advertise why men should desire us – for whatever reason that includes the glands God gave us to nurse infants. Breasts have been turned into sex objects (especially now that women can buy bigger ones) and they are part of our identity, which, of course, is not an object.
Part of the fear when it comes to breast cancer is losing that appeal, that identity.
Guys, you can tell us it doesn’t matter to you – and it may not – but it is still traumatizing to us all the same. And that is where the emotional investment in the disease comes in. To beat the disease, and still maintain a girlish figure, is considered to be a triumph.
And if the “myth” that wearing bras, particularly underwires, causes breast cancer actually turns out to be true…the victims of the disease truly have been betrayed, because the industry denied women the truth about what they REALLY could do to prevent contracting the disease.
That is why it is painful to watch pink paraded around as if raising cash for cancer research is the best possible answer, and to watch true survivors applauded, while those left behind when their mothers, wives, sisters, and aunts died sob in grief. The answer as to what causes breast cancer may well have been found and the breast cancer industry denies the possibility rather than investigating the veracity of the claim on their own. In that way, these women truly have been victimized, and so have their families.
After all, if the disease is eliminated, there is no need for the breast cancer industry.