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The Girlfriend's Guide to Health will be updated every Tuesday.... Stay tuned dear readers and let me rock your world.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Simply the Breast

On January 12, 2005 I changed my religious beliefs. Prior to this momentous day, I really had no preference when it came to undergarments. My underwear was cotton and my bras were Victoria Secret. I hated anything lace and always was of the opinion that "matching" was for the outside outfits. Purple underwear could easily be worn with any bra of any kind. There was neither logic, nor fashion when it came to my lingerie. In fact, I could scarcely call the garments that sat in my underwear drawer "lingerie".

I hated lacey bras. I found them itchy and way too much trouble. When it came to underwear, I favoured support and comfort.

And then I found myself on a 7 hour layover in terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport in London. My husband and I had just flown back from a wonderful trip/conference in Europe and our connecting flight home was delayed.

Ever one to enlighten and inform, I feel the need to formally state that Terminal 2 at Heathrow has a duty free Agent Provocateur store.

Agent Provocateur (AP) has phenomenal lingerie. All bras have matching underwear which comes in a variety of different styles. The store itself is a temple to women everywhere. There is the perfect mix of black lacquer and pink silk with just the right lighting to make anyone look perfect. The sales people at THIS Agent Provocateur offer Champagne as readily as oxygen.

It is safe to say that buying undergarments while intoxicated and exhausted can turn a usually unpleasant task into little bit of a party.
With far too much time and not enough distractions, I found myself in what could only be described as the "Great Bra-Fest of 2005".I should state some obvious facts at this juncture. Agent Provocateur has just had its annual 70% off sale. Such an event fills me with enough joy to last until spring.

There I was, passing the time with British Bras and Underwear that were in fact expensive enough to make even the chubbiest of girls feel like a supermodel.

Perhaps it was the extended layover time and my impending jet lag. Perhaps it was the helpful sales people and their perfect British Accents. Regardless of the circumstances, it was there in terminal two at Heathrow Airport I found a new love for black lace bras and the panties to match.

It all made perfect sense back in 2005 when I first walked into that beautiful pink and black store with its perfect sets of undergarments all laid out in glorious rows. The walls were covered in pink silk and black lacquer and the changing rooms were as big as most one bedroom apartments.

And so I converted.

I took my jet lagged cotton-briefed ass over to the dark (lace) side. There I stood in the temple of self indulgence and crossed over. It was in those moments that it truly struck me how "lopsided" I really am. I always knew that when it came to breasts, I was a bit imbalanced so to speak. In fact I would argue that many women I know have one breast larger than the other.

So common is this condition, that I would venture to say many of the girlfriends now reading this article have stopped midway and have "checked themselves out". Some of you are now in fact in front of the mirror, chest out, shoulders back surveying yourself for asymmetry.

There may be even a few of you who have gone so far as to "weigh the difference". There you sit in front of your computer screens... right breast in right hand... left breast in left hand, balancing your "booby scales".

Make no mistake, I was fully aware that my chest was a bit uneven in the chest area. It is a subtle difference that never bothered me. In my previous undergarments where function was the key, I never really payed much attention. But there in the 400 square feet of luxury that was the AP changing room, my left breast seemed to tower over my right.

A small study (of about 500 women) from Liverpool published in the Journal of Breast Cancer Research in 2006 shows a slight increase in the risk of developing breast cancer in women with asymmetrical breasts. The study compared the breast asymmetry of women who were free of breast disease at time of mammography, but who had subsequently developed breast cancer, with that of age-matched healthy controls who had remained disease-free. The study group consisted of 252 asymptomatic women who had normal mammography, but went on to develop breast cancer. The control group were 252 age-matched healthy controls whose mammograms were also normal and who remained free of cancer during the study period.

Breast volume was calculated from the mammograms for each group, and the relationships between asymmetry, established risk factors and the presence or absence of breast cancer were explored. The group who went on to develop breast cancer had higher breast asymmetry than controls.

The risk of developing breast cancer was 1.5 times higher in patients for every extra 100ml of breast asymmetry. It is a small study but something to think about. That being said, it is estimated that almost 50% of women have some degree of breast asymmetry and only 10% of women develop breast cancer.

That being said, I will continue to have my regular mammograms at regular intervals and not raise my "breast cancer" alert any further. So, my dear girlfriends, I am lopsided and perhaps at increased risk but this will not prevent me from spending far too much money on lacey British brassieres.... After all, we all have to compensate for our physical misgivings.

I am right handed except in sports where my left hand reigns supreme. I am left of centre in all things political and am convinced this is the right way to go. My left foot is bigger than my right, but my right ear is higher on my head. My right eye is larger than my left, but I can only raise my left eyebrow on its own. My left breast is bigger than my right and so I have decided to forever use expensive lace bras to cope with my fate in life.

I realize this makes me sound unreasonable.... perhaps that is just my left brain talking.....

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