Everyone knows that women showing their breasts is great for selling beer and garnering positive attention, unless, of course, it happens to be a woman breastfeeding a baby, which weirdly raises the ire of some people.
And almost everyone knows that pink ribbons and NFL players wearing pink gloves during October is a way of getting attention for breast cancer, a disease that one in eight women will get and which kills tens of thousands of U.S. women each year.
But there are still lots of things people don’t necessarily know about breasts and breast cancer that they should:
1. If you catch breast cancer early, in Stage I, there is a 100 percent survival rate and a 93 percent rate at Stage II. Even at Stage 3, there is a 72 percent chance of survival.
2. It is rumored that Ann Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife, had a third nipple (which is not why he had her beheaded). People in this century known to have third nipples include Mark Wahlberg, Tilda Swinton, Harry Styles (member of One Direction) and Carrie Underwood (although she had hers surgically removed).
3. Smoking can lead to sagging breasts. Scientists believe that smoking breaks down elastin, which are protein fibers in the skin that provide firmness and elasticity.
4. In 1990, Congress passed a law directing the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) to create the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program which helps low-income, uninsured and underinsured women get breast and cervical cancer screenings. This program is in every state, five U.S. territories and 11 tribal organizations. In Louisiana, it is the Louisiana Breast and Cervical Health Program (LBCHP) at www.lbchp.org. To find those outside Louisiana, go to http://nccd.cdc.gov/dcpc_Programs/default.aspx?NPID=1.
5. Humans are the only primates whose breasts appear full even when not breastfeeding.
6. Though breast cancer is rare among women under 45, it does happen, especially among young African American women, so all women need to be aware of changes in their breasts and be willing to press the point with physicians if they think something is wrong.
7. According to the Guinness World Book of Records, the largest natural breasts belong to Annie Hawkins (also known as Norma Stitz –read that carefully). Her chest measures 70 inches and she wears a U.S. size 521 bra.
8. Men get breast cancer too. Not many, as it is about 100 times less common among men than women, but men need to be aware of any changes in their breasts and see a doctor if there are.
9. Drinking alcohol, being overweight or obese after menopause, and lack of physical activity increase the risk of breast cancer. (And a lot of other illnesses too.)
10. According to an article in Marie Claire, when erect, the average nipple is slightly taller than five stacked quarters.
The Louisiana Comprehensive Cancer Control Program (LCCCP) is a fellow program to The Louisiana Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (LBCHP) and SurviveDAT. All are part of the CDC-funded Louisiana Cancer Prevention and Control Programs (LCP) housed at the LSU Health Sciences Center School of Public Health. For more information, go to www.louisianacancer.org.