Bras do not cause breast cancer. They are listed by Susan G. Komen alongside abortion, implants, caffeine, cell phones, deodorant, and electromagnetic fields as things that do not cause breast cancer.
An activist husband-and-wife team disagree. In 1995, they published a book called Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras. Because scaring people is an excellent way to make money, they are releasing a second edition of the book this year. And for good measure, they are recruiting women into a sham cohort study to "prove" their wacky belief.
Before we debunk this junk study, it's worth examining some of the other bizarre claims made by this couple, specifically the husband, Sydney Ross Singer.
Sydney Ross Singer: The Penis Whisperer
He recently wrote a paper, which doesn't appear to be peer-reviewed, stating that a man shouldn't sleep on his belly or wear tight underwear because it might permanently bend his penis. "A penis, like any hose, should not be crimped or bent, as any gardener can attest," Mr. Singer writes. What happens if you ignore his advice? Men can expect to regularly pee on the floor instead of in the toilet and to exacerbate prostate problems. "The penis is a victim of our culture's sexual obsession," he writes elsewhere.
He has other unique beliefs. For instance, he has warned that vaccinated people are a threat to unvaccinated people, touted the benefits of sex robots, said that experts are ruining science, and claimed that life is difficult for people with IQs of 165 (which, of course, he claims to have).
Burn the Bras
Naturally, this sort of intelligence would be utterly wasted if it wasn't spent ending the scourge of female undergarments. In fact, Mr. Singer's scientific acumen has led him to conclude that the American Cancer Society spreads fake cancer news and that there is a conspiracy to prevent people from learning the truth about bras. To make matters worse, breast cancer is contagious, according to Mr. Singer -- not in the way a virus is contagious, but in the way that ideas are contagious. If one woman wears a bra, then another woman will too. Before you know it, women all over the world are dropping dead because of their bras.
Thankfully, there is a solution. The first would be to buy the upcoming re-release of his bra-busting book, and the second would be to sign up to join his "cohort study." Don't be fooled. This is not a legitimate epidemiological study.
A cohort study examines two groups of people based upon some particular exposure, say cigarette smoking. After several years of follow-up, the scientists will determine health outcomes in each group. If smokers have a higher incidence of lung cancer, for example, then epidemiologists would conclude that cigarettes were to blame. Indeed, epidemiological studies just like that are why we know that smoking is lethal.
Mr. Singer's bra-free cohort study is quite different. The website says:
All you need to do is pledge to be bra-free. If you are already bra-free and have healthy breasts, that’s awesome! Please join! If you wear a bra, then we invite you to explore the benefits of letting your breasts be natural and free.
That is not an acceptable study design. There is no "control" group to which this group of bra-less women can be compared. Thus, any "data" he will produce is utter garbage. Worse, the website claims that a "reduced risk of breast cancer" is one of the benefits of signing up for the study. So, Mr. Singer has already drawn conclusions about his "study" before he's collected any data!
In his autobiographical genius essay, Mr. Singer writes, "I never told people I was a genius." It was probably better that way.