A popular misconception among many women is that the tighter the bra, the better. However, a study conducted at Harvard University linked wearing tight bras to breast cancer. This is because wearing a very tight bra can restrict blood circulation and can also impair the lymph tissues. According to the study, less oxygen and fewer nutrients are delivered to the cells, while waste products are not flushed away. This is especially the case with women who wear bras for more than 12 hours a day, or even sleep in them. The study also discovered that middle-class women are at a higher risk of breast cancer since they work for longer hours. Healthline states that a bra that is tight can cause a host of skin issues, including folliculitis, dermatitis, heat rash, and hives. Heat rash occurs when sweat ducts are blocked, and hives can develop through physical pressure on the skin. Health experts say that you may have been led to believe that every woman wears one, and only one, bra size but it’s not like that. Because not every shirt or pair of jeans in your wardrobe is exactly the same size. “Depending on many factors, your bra size can fluctuate. Hormonal fluctuations, age, and pregnancy can change a person’s bra size. You may want to try on a handful of slightly different sizes, and keep the ones that fit best,” Healthline states. Health experts also note that tight fitting bras put more pressure on the diaphragm which can affect the process of digestion. Due to being constantly pushed towards the rib cage, the breasts can be internally injured. How to tell that your bra is too small Dr Michel Baingi, a general practitioner in Kigali, says that if you notice that your bra straps dig into your shoulders, the band squeezes your back, and the underwire digs at your chest, the bra is too tight or small. He says, if you ever get a line under your boobs — especially if it’s red, itchy, or irritated — it could mean something’s up with the underwire in your bra, or sometimes, you can know that the bra is too small if your ribs literally ache after wearing it. Scientists say that if you are wearing the wrong bra size, you will experience spillage, straps digging into your skin, a cagey restrictive feeling around your chest, band riding up your back, hooks leaving marks, bad posture, shortness of breath and general discomfort. Many women also experience headaches, backaches, pain in the rib-cage and neck pain as well. Baingi says that when looking for a bra, ensure that the band wraps around your chest are comfortably in a straight line, straps are comfortable, cups fit your breasts well and there are no side spillages as it will help you choose a bra that is the right size for you. He adds that if your bra is too tight, it can cause skin damage and reduce blood circulation, and make you feel uncomfortable. “A bra that is too tight limits movement in the upper back, causing rigidity in the spine and restriction. Spines are designed to move, to bend, to rotate, but experts believe that the section where the bra strap is often has a localised stiffness at the spine. “This causes backache which can then develop into back pain,” Baingi says.