Bras can do miraculous things these days (thank you underwire). But can they detect cancer?
That's the claim for First Warning Systems new bra, equipped with a series of sensors embedded in the cups that pick up temperature changes in breast tissue and, says the Reno, Nev.-based company, provide a thermal fingerprint that can alert doctors to the presence of malignant cells.
According to the company's website, the data generated by the sports bra can predict the presence of breast cancer with 90% specificity and sensitivity. Women wear it for 12 hours to accumulate a stable enough reading of temperature, and the measurements are fed into the company's algorithm that then spits out a result: normal, benign, suspected for breast tissue abnormalities, or probable for breast tissue abnormalities.
Sounds like a good idea, right? Except that the concept of using temperature to detect disease may not be ready for prime time just yet. "Hypothetically, it's conceivable that malignant processes would have a temperature gradient compared to non-malignant tissues," says Dr. Therese Bevers, medical director of the cancer prevention center at the Univ. of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. "But that gradient may not be very large."