A Bust—I mean must—Read; Or, An Evolution in Bra Sizes

“Excuse me, miss. Would you care to participate in science?”

Sometimes being a statistician is enviable. In a flash of scientific brilliance, Australian statisticians have just completed a massive study of measuring the breast sizes, weights, and full ranges of movements of these feminine objects.

I don’t know what connections the very fine folks at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, commonly known as CSIRO, have with United States’ scientific survey agencies, but I would like to project my name as someone well able to conduct these kinds of studies in the USA. For example, I have my own tape measure. Vitae supplied on demand, of course. Measuring tape

Anyway, among other fascinating facts, CSIRO tells us that “Running makes the breasts sway in a figure eight, while cycling causes an up-and-down movement; a 16D pair move as much as 27 centimetres.” Unknown is what geometric objects are inscribed by playing a round of volleyball.

Dear readers, 27 cm is a lot: it is nearly a foot! That range of motion, starting from zero and soaring up some 10.6 inches, and then gracefully returning down the same path, must have been incredibly difficult to measure precisely. Just imagining the dedication required makes me break out into a cold sweat.

Another fact: “the average breast weighing about half a kilo, and making up four to five per cent of our body fat, or one per cent of our total body weight”. The question that naturally pops to mind is: what kind of specialty scale is necessary for this kind of work? One can only guess that “Made in Japan” is stamped on the apparatus.

But all these findings pale in comparison to the news that breast sizes are on the rise. “In 1960, the average bra size in Australia was 10B. Ten years ago, it was 12B. Today, it’s 14C.” I’m not certain of the conversion between American and Australian units; still, the results are tantalizing. Skipping ahead four full measures! Plus tacking on a whole cup.

The most important fact to glean from this remarkable finding is that Australian statisticians have been wielding their tape measures since at least 1960. Talk about job perquisites!

Why all this new flesh? Two reasons. Females in 2010 are eating more than females ate in 1960, and are eating more at all times of their lives. This growing consumption of comestibles has resulted in the thrusting forth in all feminine areas, stressing stitches body wide, not just the upper reaches.

Others speculate that our addiction to buying what used to be free—sipping water in bottles which have been trucked in half a continent away—is causing the increase. “Many of these bottles contain the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) – a compound used in the production of plastics that damages the endocrine system, probably as it has a similar structure to human oestrogen.”

The chemistry is clear: more estrogen is positively correlated with larger ranges of “up-and-down movement.”

Men, it must be emphasized, also drink from these bottles, and thus also ingest structures “similar to human oestrogen,” presumably suffering the resulting feminizing effects. Come to think of it, this might account for the results of recent elections.

Careful readers will have noticed that we have not yet heard from evolutionary psychologists. Just the other day, in that eminent journal the New York Times, we learn what had to be true: that evolution has not ceased in humans. How could it have?

An as example, the article informs us:

Most East Asians also have a special form of a gene known as ABCC11, which makes the cells of the ear produce dry earwax. Most Africans and Europeans, on the other hand, possess the ancestral form of the gene, which makes wet earwax. It is hard to see why dry earwax would confer a big survival advantage, so the Asian version of the gene may have been selected for some other property, like making people sweat less.

Unknown is how ear wax relates to sweat. But I have no worries that evolutionary psychologists have found an artful way to tie less sweating to greater success in bed—which they must, of course, by the prescripts of the theory (prescripts, incidentally, which I do not question). After all, the dry-ear-wax gene can only be spread by people choosing, in greater proportions, bed mates with drier ear wax.

Now, as a consequence of being one, I have been around a lot of men, and I can assure you (if you are not one) that not one of us has ever commented on a prospective sexual mate’s ear wax moisture level. The selection pressure on ear wax genes must be minimal. But I have heard many rumors about the delectability of what the Australians have been measuring. And there the pressure must be great.

Could it not be, then, that breast sizes are increasing because the gene or genes associated with their circumference and heft are being selected for at a higher rate? There is—is there not?—ample evidence for this thesis.

Anybody willing to fund a grant to study this phenomenon in greater depth?


  1. Ari


    My n=1, but the wife is of East Asian descent, and has dry ear wax and also does not sweat… like at all. It’s incredible. She also has dry sneezes. Those really bother me. There is something really wrong with a sneeze that expels nothing.

    Seriously though, I don’t know if less sweating is leading to more bedding, but I can assure you that it does lead to less success for deodorant companies in Japan. Tough business, that.

    Also, LOL to the Japanese scale comment.

  2. Bernie

    Of course, the influx of large numbers non-anglo saxons into Australia over the last 40 years, has nothing to do with this result.

    Obviously, this kind of research requires incredible concentration and single-mindedness. My trip to Bondi Beach a few years ago provided ample evidence for this.

  3. Ken

    Ah Briggs, as a statistician (you) I’m a bit disappointed that you didn’t factor in a number of sampling factors that may or may not actually factor in. In particular is sampling size & sample quality.

    First, the type of statistician involved in such a long-term study/ies is probably not the type that has a lot of offsetting independent non-rigorous investigations under their belt (so to speak). In other words, many of these guys might not be capable of distinguishing the real thing from artificially enhanced.

    Calls for a double-blind validation test I’d say (the details of which can be worked out later…perhaps after some independent experimentation to develop the best technique).

    Also, how are those samples really being collected? Does the sampling technique truly qualilfy as random grabs from the population at large, or, is there some heretofore undetected bias in the manner in which these researchers have culled their samples from the broader population?? What ages of the samplee’s have been dominant & has that part of the sampling process been consistent over time? Etc.

    And, as noted, the apparatus used to measure things measured need to be validated for consistency over the long term…any indication that has been done?

    That’s enough for now, but makes the point that sampling bias & technique need to be independently validated.

  4. For your further studies commend this link , which I almost sent last week after watching the awe-inspiring video associated with “How to Fool Yourself—And Others—With Statistics“.  These are indeed an interesting pair of subject matters.  Since you are so immensely qualified to statistically study the data from these uplifting fields, being the world-renown “Statistician to the Stars” as it were, humble self volunteers to be your lab flunky and in the interest of science will cheerfully do all the heavy lifting gratis. Or is this merely a ploy to increase your hit count?

  5. JH

    This is too funny. Nothing wrong with wanting to know more about the female breast, a fascinating body part. I have always wondered whether there is a positive correlation between breast size and buttock size.

    Darn, I thought wet earwax was just a symptom of certain allergies.

  6. Alan Grey

    Errr….CSIRO didn’t do all the research here…they simply got a mention for the dietary changes….

  7. Briggs


    Let’s not spoil our statistical thoughts, shall we?


    An anonymous reader sends this link, in which an experiment in scientific measurement may be conducted.

  8. Speed

    ” … a 16D pair … ”

    And the units of measure are?

  9. Yooper Paul

    Bernie said “ample”…Heh, heh, heh..

  10. Evolution is generally thought of as Progress; from the lowly ape to the glorious Homo superior. But we could just as easily be devolving — growing more stupid and brutish with each passing generation. All those inferior “Jerry Springer Show” types are breeding like rabbits. God knows upon what criteria they select mates. Giant breasts, walnut-sized brains most likely. This does not bode well for the future of our species.

    The solution? Eugenicists must unite! And I don’t mean metaphorically.

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