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Is There a Toxic Secret in Victoria's Secret Bras?

December 02, 2008 | 100,371 views
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victoria's secret, bra, bras, brassiere, underwire, formaldehydeSeveral women have claimed that a popular type of bra from the leading lingerie firm Victoria’s Secret made them ill.

Roberta Ritter, 37, claims: "I had the welts that were very red, hot to the touch, extremely inflamed, blistery. It itched profusely. I couldn't sleep and was waking up itching."

Miss Ritter, from Ohio, filed a lawsuit against Victoria's Secret in May and claims she has been contacted by dozens of women suffering similar symptoms who are now seeking permission to join her in a class-action lawsuit.

Her lawyers said they purchased the same bra types that Miss Ritter had bought and had them laboratory tested. They claim the tests revealed that the bras showed traces of formaldehyde, which is used in the textile industry to make fabrics crease-resistant. The lawyers believe Miss Ritter may be allergic to formaldehyde.

What Are GMOs?

From April 19th through April 25th we launch GMO Awareness Week. We set aside an entire week dedicated to providing you with information on GMOs and labeling initiatives.

GMOs are a product of genetic engineering, meaning their genetic makeup has been altered to induce a variety of “unique” traits to crops, such as making them drought-resistant or giving them “more nutrients.” GMO proponents claim that genetic engineering is “safe and beneficial,” and that it advances the agricultural industry. They also say that GMOs help ensure the global food supply and sustainability. But is there any truth to these claims? I believe not. For years, I've stated the belief that GMOs pose one of the greatest threats to life on the planet. Genetic engineering is NOT the safe and beneficial technology that it is touted to be.

Help Support GMO Labeling

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)—Monsanto’s Evil Twin—is pulling out all the stops to keep you in the dark about what’s in your food. For nearly two decades, Monsanto and corporate agribusiness have exercised near-dictatorial control over American agriculture. For example, Monsanto has made many claims that glyphosate in Roundup is harmless to animals and humans. However, recently the World Health Organization (WHO) had their research team test glyphosate and have labeled it a probable carcinogen.

Public opinion around the biotech industry's contamination of our food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the tipping point. We're fighting back. That's why I was the first to push for GMO labeling. I donated a significant sum to the first ballot initiative in California in 2012, which inspired others to donate to the campaign as well. We technically "lost the vote, but we are winning the war, as these labeling initiatives have raised a considerable amount of public awareness.

The insanity has gone far enough, which is why I encourage you to boycott every single product owned by members of the GMA, including natural and organic brands. More than 80 percent of our support comes from individual consumers like you, who understand that real change comes from the grassroots.

Thankfully, we have organizations like the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) to fight back against these junk food manufacturers, pesticide producers, and corporate giants.

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

Together, Let's Help OCA Get The Funding They Deserve

Let’s Help OCA get the funding it deserves. I have found very few organizations who are as effective and efficient as OCA. It’s a public interest organization dedicated to promoting health justice and sustainability. A central focus of the OCA is building a healthy, equitable, and sustainable system of food production and consumption. That's why I'm proud to announce I will be matching donations up to $250,000 this week.

Please make a donation to help OCA fight for GMO labeling.

Donate Today!


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Here’s yet another sad reminder of the toxic world we live in today. You are exposed to potentially hazardous poisons from so many areas on a daily basis – you’re not even safe from your underwear. 

It’s easy to throw your hands up in despair and disgust, but remember, you are not entirely powerless. There are always healthier options, even when it comes to your undergarments.  

But first, let’s look at why this hazardous toxin is rearing its ugly head in your closet to begin with. 

Why Do They Put Formaldehyde in Bras? 

Formaldehyde, most commonly known as embalming fluid, serves a number of purposes in manufactured products. It is actually frequently used in fabrics to give them a variety of “easy care properties” such as:

  • Permanent press
  • Anti-cling, anti-static, anti-wrinkle, and anti-shrink
  • Waterproofing and stain resistance
  • Perspiration proof
  • Moth proof
  • Mildew resistance
  • Color-fastness

According to the American Contact Dermatitis Society, rayon, blended cotton, corduroy, wrinkle-resistant 100 percent cotton, and any synthetic blended polymer are likely to have been treated with formaldehyde resins.

But as some are finding out the hard way, easy care comes at a price.

Health Hazards of Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde, for all its benefits, is also listed as a “probable carcinogen.” And, unfortunately, the United States is more lax about its regulation than most other countries. For example, “low level” of acceptable formaldehyde in Japan is 75 ppm, whereas the U.S. “low level” of acceptable formaldehyde is near 300 ppm.

There’s evidence that some people can develop sensitivity to formaldehyde from repeated exposure, which can eventually become a serious health concern.

You can be exposed to the chemical both via off-gassing and direct contact with your skin.

Formaldehyde has also been shown to cause cancer in animals, and may cause cancer in humans.  Other common adverse health effects include:

  • fatigue
  • skin rash (contact dermatitis)
  • severe allergic reactions
  • eye, nose, and throat irritation
  • wheezing and coughing

Be aware that it takes several washings, with dryings and airings in between, to significantly reduce the amount of formaldehyde found in clothing and other household fabrics like window drapes.

So if you suffer from chemical sensitivities, it is important to pay careful attention to what you buy, especially if it’s going next to your skin. Contact dermatitis from clothing can be recognized by a chronic and recurring rash that appears on parts of your body where clothing fits tight.

Because heat and humidity increase the emissions from formaldehyde resins, the American Contact Dermatitis Society warns that areas around waistbands, collars, underarms, the upper back, inner thighs, and back of knees are more prone to chemical-induced skin rashes.

Other Little Known Dangers of Bras 

Aside from the issue of formaldehyde (and who knows what else might be in there), the mere act of wearing a bra might not be in a woman’s best interest – health-wise, at least.

Some types of bras are worse than others, but many physicians and researchers are now warning that tight fitting bras should be avoided as they cut off lymph drainage. This can also contribute to breast cancer, as your body will be less able to excrete all the other toxins you’re exposed to on a daily basis, such as aluminum from antiperspirants.

Bras have also been implicated in the rise of benign (non-cancerous) but often painful breast cysts and lumps. Says Dr. Dr. John McDougall, M.D., in his book titled The McDougall Program for a Healthy Heart:

"After repeated bouts of inflammation, the breasts develop scar tissue in many places, and some of the milk ducts become plugged, forming cysts. Fibrocystic breast disease, not surprisingly, is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer."

And according to Michael Schacter, M.D.:

"Any activity which will help to remove accumulated toxins in the breasts will help to reduce the chances of developing breast cancer. It is the job of the lymphatic system of the body to help drain toxic substances from tissues and poor lymphatic drainage may play a role in breast cancer formation.

(Lymph flow) is very sensitive to constricting external pressure which can impede its flow. Bras and other external tight clothing can impede flow. So, the take home message to women is to wear bras as little as possible, and when wearing them try to choose one that is least constricting."

Medical anthropologists Sydney Singer and Soma Grismaijer – authors of Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras -- conducted a study of over 4,000 women, and found that women who do not wear bras have a much lower risk of breast cancer.

They also found that about 90 percent of fibrocystic patients improve when they quit wearing bras.

Beware of the Wire in Your Bra

If you wear metal underwire bras, you’re exposing yourself to an even greater level of hazard, as the wire can form an antenna attracting electromagnetic fields, which can also increase your risk of breast cancer.

Wearing metal on your body is something you generally want to avoid. If you feel you need the underwire, please consider switching out the metal wire in your favorite bra for a plastic wire, available in nearly any fabric store.

An even better option is to opt for a wireless style bra, which are now available in most brands, and for various levels of support.

To avoid a potentially dangerous chemical cocktail from soaking into your chest, look for organic varieties, which are now being offered by quite a few organic clothing manufacturers.

Last but not least, you can avoid some of the improper drainage issues if you wear a bra that is properly fitted. Many, many women simply wear bras that do not fit. The website Linda’s Bra School offers plenty of guidance on proper bra fitting and can help you find a more appropriate bra style.

Thank you! Your purchases help us support these charities and organizations.

Food Democracy Now
Mercury Free Dentistry
Fluoride Action Network
National Vaccine Information Center
Institute for Responsible Technology
Organic Consumers Association
Center for Nutrtion Advocacy
Cornucopia Institute
Vitamin D Council
GrassrootsHealth - Vitamin D*action
Alliance for Natural Health USA
American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation
The Rabies Challenge Fund
Cropped Catis Mexico