The Sag Thruth

Bu Josie Garthwaite

If you’ve heard the old wives’ tale about breast-feeding and sagging, consider it, um, busted. A recent study from the University of Kentucky failed to establish a link between nursing and breast ptosis (med-speak for “sag”). According to lead author Brian D. Rinker, MD, the real culprits include smoking, weight fluctuation (like pregnancy), heredity, and simple aging. Over time, skin and ligaments—the breasts’ support system—lose their elasticity, so an increase in weight causes more stretch. And smoking accelerates the process by breaking down a firming protein in the skin called elastin.

Want to stave off sagging? Experts say simply wearing a bra with enough support to make you comfortable in an activity should help prevent damage to supporting tissues. But take note, says Rinker: Because muscles are a separate structure, no amount of targeted exercises (push-ups, for example) will perk up your chest.