For many years now, I have been carrying out research on the benefits and drawbacks of wearing certain clothing as part of a wider research on the history of clothing (and nudity) in social situations.

One area of research I stumbled across is the subject of bra wearing and breast ptosis. The answer provided for the question in Medical Sciences How does wearing a bra affect the firmness of breasts? talks about a 15 year study by Jean-Denis Rouillon.

I found many references to this study online such as the one in Medical News Today with many different quotes on a similar vein, yet I have not been able to find a copy of this study published anywhere and no full reference information has been provided where I have seen this mentioned. E.g., Medical News Today writes:

Prof. Rouillon used a slide rule and a caliper (a device used to measure the distance between two opposite sides of an object) to carefully measure changes in breast features of hundreds of women over a 15-year period at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire, Besançon. [...]

Rouillon found that women who never wore bras had nipples on average seven millimeters higher in relation to their shoulders each year than regular bra users.

I found information on a preliminary report (Pierrot & Rouillon, 2003) on the study, but not the 15 year study report, which I assume was published in 2017/2018 as the 2003 article was reporting on a 1 year longitudinal preliminary study, and this adds to the confusion when you consider an article written in 2013 says (emphasis mine)

According to a new French study, published on Wednesday, wearing a bra does nothing to reduce back pain, and the chest supports actually cause increased breast sagging.

After finding this report in the Skeptical Inquirer, I am now wondering if it actually exists. Does anyone have any idea of the details of the final report?


Pierrot, L., & Rouillon, J.-D. (2003). The development of the breasts after discontinuing wearing bras: Preliminary longitudinal study of 33 volunteer sportswomen. Thesis presented to Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Besancon, France. Retrieved from http://www.worldcat.org/title/evolution-du-sein-apres-larret-du-port-du-soutien-gorge-etude-preliminaire-longitudinale-sur-33-sportives-volontaires/oclc/491764481

  • I agree with you, the first mention of the 15 year study is from 2013, which would imply that he started the study in 1998, which doesn't mesh with the 2003 article claiming they were one year
    – DenisS
    Mar 3, 2020 at 16:34

1 Answer 1


Out of the numerous 2013 mass media stories on this, Reuters managed to correctly report that this was an unpublished study!

Rouillon told Reuters that his unpublished work is still in the early stages and he is hesitant about giving one-size-fits-all advice to women, despite the media circus.

Also, Rouillon JD doesn't return any hits in pubmed after 2011... So I'd say the study is still unpublished.

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