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Christopher Gonzalez
Christopher Gonzalez

Breast [UPD]


Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women after skin cancer. Mammograms can detect breast cancer early, possibly before it has spread. Explore the links on this page to learn more about breast cancer prevention, screening, treatment, statistics, research, clinical trials, and more.




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Whether you or a loved one are worried about developing breast cancer, have just been diagnosed, are going through breast cancer treatment, or are trying to stay well after treatment, this detailed information can help you find the answers you need.


In females, it serves as the mammary gland, which produces and secretes milk to feed infants.[2] Subcutaneous fat covers and envelops a network of ducts that converge on the nipple, and these tissues give the breast its size and shape. At the ends of the ducts are lobules, or clusters of alveoli, where milk is produced and stored in response to hormonal signals.[3] During pregnancy, the breast responds to a complex interaction of hormones, including estrogens, progesterone, and prolactin, that mediate the completion of its development, namely lobuloalveolar maturation, in preparation of lactation and breastfeeding.


A large number of colloquial terms for breasts are used in English, ranging from fairly polite terms to vulgar or slang.[7] Some vulgar slang expressions may be considered to be derogatory or sexist to women.[8]


Humans are the only mammals whose breasts become permanently enlarged after sexual maturity (known in humans as puberty). The reason for this evolutionary change was unknown.[9] Several hypotheses have been put forward:


It has been suggested by zoologists Avishag and Amotz Zahavi that the size of the human breasts can be explained by the handicap theory of sexual dimorphism. This would see the explanation for larger breasts as them being an honest display of the women's health and ability to grow and carry them in her life. Prospective mates can then evaluate the genes of a potential mate for their ability to sustain her health even with the additional energy demanding burden she is carrying.[14][10]


The zoologist Desmond Morris describes a sociobiological approach in his popular science book The Naked Ape. He suggests, by making comparisons with the other primates, that breasts evolved to replace swelling buttocks as a sex signal, of ovulation. He notes how humans have, relatively speaking, large penises as well as large breasts. Furthermore, early humans adopted bipedalism and face-to-face coitus. He therefore suggested enlarged sexual signals helped maintain the bond between a mated male and female even though they performed different duties and therefore were separated for lengths of time.[15][10][16]


The study The Evolution of the Human Breast (2001) proposed that the rounded shape of a woman's breast evolved to prevent the sucking infant offspring from suffocating while feeding at the teat; that is, because of the human infant's small jaw, which did not project from the face to reach the nipple, he or she might block the nostrils against the mother's breast if it were of a flatter form (cf. common chimpanzee). Theoretically, as the human jaw receded into the face, the woman's body compensated with round breasts.[17]


Ashley Montague (1965) proposed that breasts came about as an adaptation for infant feeding for a different reason as early human ancestors adopted bipedalism and the loss of body hair. Human upright stance meant infants must be carried at the hip or shoulder instead of on the back as in the apes. This gives the infant less opportunity to find the nipple or the purchase to cling on to the mother's body hair. The mobility of the nipple on a large breast in most human females gives the infant more ability to find grasp it and feed.[12]


Other suggestions include simply that permanent breasts attracted mates, that "pendulous" breasts gave infants something to cling to, or that permanent breasts shared the function of a camel's hump, to store fat as an energy reserve.[9]


The dimensions and weight of the breast vary widely among women. A small-to-medium-sized breast weighs 500 grams (1.1 pounds) or less, and a large breast can weigh approximately 750 to 1,000 grams (1.7 to 2.2 pounds) or more. The tissue composition ratios of the breast also vary among women. Some women's breasts have a higher proportion of glandular tissue than of adipose or connective tissues. The fat-to-connective-tissue ratio determines the density or firmness of the breast. During a woman's life, her breasts change size, shape, and weight due to hormonal changes during puberty, the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause.[22][23]


The morphologic variations in the size, shape, volume, tissue density, pectoral locale, and spacing of the breasts determine their natural shape, appearance, and position on a woman's chest. Breast size and other characteristics do not predict the fat-to-milk-gland ratio or the potential for the woman to nurse an infant. The size and the shape of the breasts are influenced by normal-life hormonal changes (thelarche, menstruation, pregnancy, menopause) and medical conditions (e.g. virginal breast hypertrophy).[26] The shape of the breasts is naturally determined by the support of the suspensory Cooper's ligaments, the underlying muscle and bone structures of the chest, and by the skin envelope. The suspensory ligaments sustain the breast from the clavicle (collarbone) and the clavico-pectoral fascia (collarbone and chest) by traversing and encompassing the fat and milk-gland tissues. The breast is positioned, affixed to, and supported upon the chest wall, while its shape is established and maintained by the skin envelope.[citation needed] In most women, one breast is slightly larger than the other.[19] More obvious and persistent asymmetry in breast size occurs in up to 25% of women.[27]


While it is a common belief that breastfeeding causes breasts to sag,[28] researchers have found that a woman's breasts sag due to four key factors: cigarette smoking, number of pregnancies, gravity, and weight loss or gain.[29]


The base of each breast is attached to the chest by the deep fascia over the pectoralis major muscles. The space between the breast and the pectoralis major muscle, called retromammary space, gives mobility to the breast. The chest (thoracic cavity) progressively slopes outwards from the thoracic inlet (atop the breastbone) and above to the lowest ribs that support the breasts. The inframammary fold, where the lower portion of the breast meets the chest, is an anatomic feature created by the adherence of the breast skin and the underlying connective tissues of the chest; the IMF is the lower-most extent of the anatomic breast. Normal breast tissue typically has a texture that feels nodular or granular, to an extent that varies considerably from woman to woman.[19]


The breasts are principally composed of adipose, glandular, and connective tissues.[30] Because these tissues have hormone receptors,[30][31] their sizes and volumes fluctuate according to the hormonal changes particular to thelarche (sprouting of breasts), menstruation (egg production), pregnancy (reproduction), lactation (feeding of offspring), and menopause (end of menstruation).


The morphological structure of the human breast is identical in males and females until puberty. For pubescent girls in thelarche (the breast-development stage), the female sex hormones (principally estrogens) in conjunction with growth hormone promote the sprouting, growth, and development of the breasts. During this time, the mammary glands grow in size and volume and begin resting on the chest. These development stages of secondary sex characteristics (breasts, pubic hair, etc.) are illustrated in the five-stage Tanner Scale.[32]


During thelarche the developing breasts are sometimes of unequal size, and usually the left breast is slightly larger. This condition of asymmetry is transitory and statistically normal in female physical and sexual development.[33] Medical conditions can cause overdevelopment (e.g., virginal breast hypertrophy, macromastia) or underdevelopment (e.g., tuberous breast deformity, micromastia) in girls and women.


Approximately two years after the onset of puberty (a girl's first menstrual cycle), estrogen and growth hormone stimulate the development and growth of the glandular fat and suspensory tissues that compose the breast. This continues for approximately four years until the final shape of the breast (size, volume, density) is established at about the age of 21. Mammoplasia (breast enlargement) in girls begins at puberty, unlike all other primates in which breasts enlarge only during lactation.[20]


The breasts reach full maturity only when a woman's first pregnancy occurs.[35] Changes to the breasts are among the first signs of pregnancy. The breasts become larger, the nipple-areola complex becomes larger and darker, the Montgomery's glands enlarge, and veins sometimes become more visible. Breast tenderness during pregnancy is common, especially during the first trimester. By mid-pregnancy, the breast is physiologically capable of lactation and some women can express colostrum, a form of breast milk.[36]


At menopause, breast atrophy occurs. The breasts can decrease in size when the levels of circulating estrogen decline. The adipose tissue and milk glands also begin to wither. The breasts can also become enlarged from adverse side effects of combined oral contraceptive pills. The size of the breasts can also increase and decrease in response to weight fluctuations. Physical changes to the breasts are often recorded in the stretch marks of the skin envelope; they can serve as historical indicators of the increments and the decrements of the size and volume of a woman's breasts throughout the course of her life.[citation needed]


The primary function of the breasts, as mammary glands, is the nourishing of an infant with breast milk. Milk is produced in milk-secreting cells in the alveoli. When the breasts are stimulated by the suckling of her baby, the mother's brain secretes oxytocin. High levels of oxytocin trigger the contraction of muscle cells surrounding the alveoli, causing milk to flow along the ducts that connect the alveoli to the nipple.[37] 041b061a72


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