Saggy Breasts, Back Pain: Is Your Bra to Blame?

ABC News' Juju Chang reports:

Not since the bra-burning era of the 1960s has the idea of ditching the ubiquitous undergarment generated such heated debate, but this time, it's not for feminist reasons.

One male researcher, Jean-Denis Rouillon, a sports medicine specialist from the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Besancon, France, claims women would be "less saggy" if they got rid of bras altogether. He also insists that wearing a bra does not, contrary to popular belief, relieve back pain.

Initial findings in the French study suggest women's breasts may actually get saggier when they wear bras, claiming that bras limit the growth of supporting breast tissues that keep them perky.

Over the course of 15 years, the research team followed 330 women, using a slide rule and caliper to measure the changes happening to their breasts. They found that those who took off their bras for good experienced firmer, perkier breasts each year that they didn't wear a bra.

But self-proclaimed national bra expert, Linda Becker, isn't unhooking.

"Gravity pulls everything down," Becker told ABC News. "There's no way you can walk around day after day and not wear a bra, and have your breasts feel up and perky."

Becker, who owns a chain of bra stores and a national online site, says most women would be in bad shape physically and socially without adequate bosom support.

Dr. Stafford Broumand, a cosmetic surgeon at New York's Mount Sinai hospital, says there could be some legitimacy to the French initial findings.

"In younger women, it seems like it would work to help increase the elasticity and therefore decrease the sagging of the developing breast," said Broumand.

ABC News spoke to women of all shapes, sizes and ages who insisted that even if the French research gains more support, they're not getting rid of their bras any time soon.

"You need your support," one woman said. "Wear what you need."

"The girls need to be perked up," added another.

However, Broumand was quick to add that women who are breastfeeding or growing older may still benefit from bras.