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CNN claims that sleeping on your side and sleeping on your stomach can lead to saggy breasts.

Sleeping on your side can cause you to get wrinkles," Glaser says. Blame all that smushing of one side of your face into the pillow. This pose also contributes to breast sag, since your girls are dangling downward, stretching the ligaments, says Health magazine's Medical Editor Roshini Rajapaksa, M.D.

Has any scientific research been done on this?

EDIT;

The following websites are talking about "gravity" being one of the reasons of breast sag.
When we sleep on our stomach doesn't gravity come into effect?
http://www.ayurvediccure.com/breast_sagging_shapes.htm

Breast sagging occurs for several different reasons - multiple pregnancies, breast feeding, rapid weight loss, genetics, gravity and age.

http://seamist.hubpages.com/hub/what-causes-saggy-breasts

The size of the breasts and gravity - If your breasts are larger, the size of your breasts and gravity can stretch the ligaments and skin.

http://www.arizonafoothillsmagazine.com/afm-style-files/scottsdale-fashion-how-tos/should-you-sleep-in-your-bra

Over time, gravity and poor support can stretch the ligament beyond repair.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Gradually with age, increased breast weight, unopposed gravity (= not wearing proper support) - the breast skin AND Cooper's ligaments are stretched out resulting in sagging.

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@Oddthinking Thanks for the edit. –  TheIndependentAquarius May 29 '12 at 4:28
    
I can't find any real source quote on this claim aside from the name Roshini Rajapaksa, who is a Gastroenterologist. I would think that the claim of sagging breast may be a bit outside her area of expertise, and should be taken with a grain of salt. As for studies, like I said, I am having a hard time locating a source of why the doctor would make the claims she did. –  Larian LeQuella Jun 1 '12 at 18:51
    
Here is a link on the doctor: med.nyu.edu/biosketch/rajapr01 She has no studies listed, and none of her publications seem to be linked to sleeping or breasts either. –  Larian LeQuella Jun 1 '12 at 18:52
    
@LarianLeQuella I have added some links, please have a look. –  TheIndependentAquarius Jun 5 '12 at 0:21
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Anisha, it's sort of a complicated interplay at work from what I got from my research. Gravity comes into play if the breast are larger, however, the Cooper's ligaments can accommodate that to a degree. It's simply a loss of elasticity that occurs due to age that causes sagging BEYOND what is imposed on the woman due to her already inherent breast shape. Some of the sources mentioned naturally benefit from any insecurities women may have (fashion consultants and cosmetic surgeons...). –  Larian LeQuella Jun 5 '12 at 1:53

1 Answer 1

up vote 20 down vote accepted
+50

I am going to convert my comments to an answer, since this seems to be a bit of a tough nut to crack.

First of all, the CNN article links to an article on Health.com which states the same thing. The only reference is that a Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa makes this assertion. There is no links or discussion of any studies or even any particular expertise in this. Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa is actually a Gastroenterologist, and as such may not be fully qualified to speak on the subject of breast tissue, or breast sagging. At her NYU web page, it shows that she has no studies listed to her credit. She does have numerous articles and publications in the field of Gastroenterology & Hepatology. From 1999 to 2008 (on her web page), all the publications are in her area of expertise. Later on though, in 2008, she started publishing in the Health Magazine, and the articles seem to step outside the bounds of her expertise.

As to the claim of breast sagging, I got led around to quite a few sites on the internet, and can't seem to find a great deal of impartial information on the subject. I examined first of all if there is actually a ligament involved in the physiology. On that count, there is. It is called the Cooper's ligament. This wikipedia article says:

Many women have held the mistaken belief that sagging is caused by the failure of the Cooper's ligaments to support the breast tissue. In fact, sagging is partly determined by genetic factors, but cigarette smoking, a woman's body mass index, her number of pregnancies, the size of her breasts before pregnancy, and age are all influencing factors.

The citation wikipedia gives is somewhat questionable in my opinion, because it seems to suffer from the same problem that the assertion that your sleep position can cause sagging.... That is, it doesn't cite any original research on the subject.

The medical term for sagging breasts is called Ptosis of the breast (as opposed to plain Ptosis that generally refers to eyelid drooping). Again, I am not able to locate any specific studies on breast ptosis and sleeping position. All the studies indicate that it's simply the combined effect of gravity, combined with time. With time being the main contributor, because ligaments just naturally wear out over time.

Aging: Because of the way that breasts are built, sagging is common and largely unavoidable. After all, breasts contain no muscles of their own to hold them up. Rather, breasts are made of fat, glands, milk ducts, and a type of connective tissue called the "Cooper's ligaments," which are thought to provide some structural support. As a woman gets older, these ligaments may get stretched and lose elasticity. Breasts may lose fullness and size as they lose their underlying support system of tissue and fat.

An advice column at Columbia University does say that:

Contrary to popular belief, going braless doesn't mean that your breasts are destined to droop. There's also nothing unhealthy about wearing one as long as it fits properly. Bras do not preserve the shape or perkiness of breasts. Sagging results from a number of factors unrelated to brassiere wearing, such as:

  • breast fat and tissue composition

  • softening of breast ligaments and loss of breast tissue with age

  • enlarged breasts during pregnancy, which causes the skin to stretch and remain stretched even after they revert to pre-pregnancy size

  • effects of gravity over a woman's lifetime

Again, the main factor appears to be age and time, and not sleeping position.

In all these cases, there is a mention of gravity. Physiologically, all the previously cited places indicate that if a woman has large breast, they will naturally sag more just because they are large. However, the Cooper's ligament still is able to accommodate that weight as part of its job. The only thing that affects the ligament tissue, from what I read in the papers, was the loss of elasticity due to natural aging. They will not cause accelerated sagging due to sleeping position (or not wearing a bra).

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Dude, I can just imagine the web page returns you got when researching this! Was Brooke keeping you on task? :) –  Brightblades Jun 4 '12 at 11:58
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@BrightBlades: I tried (and failed) to research this question before Larian posted. I found a study where scientists measured the dimensions of 50 women with "aesthetically perfect breasts". I think this would paper would be a useful tool in getting teenage boys interested in becoming scientists. –  Oddthinking Jun 5 '12 at 3:26

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