Breast Anatomy and Physiology

Ever wonder why breast cancer is common among women when in fact both men and women have breasts? This is primarily because men have lesser breast tissue and mass than women.

Breasts are primarily composed of adipose tissue, ducts glands, and connective tissues. Basically, breasts are accessory organs because of the mammary glands that produce milk for offspring feeding.

Blood vessels and lymph vessels also run along the breast tissues. Lymph vessels are composed of ducts that collect and transfer lymph fluid from the breasts towards the lymph nodes (tiny bean-shaped masses) around the breasts.

Breast Development

Breast development usually occurs around puberty stage, usually between 10-12 years of age. Female reproductive hormones, estrogen, and progesterone cause the buildup of fat in the breasts. Ducts within the breasts are growing and branching out. Glands are developing. Generally, breast skin stretches along with the growth of breasts.

Young women tend to have fuller breasts than older ones. This is due to the replacement of mammary glands and ducts with fat as age progresses. Connective tissues are also no longer elastic with older age, losing the dense appearance of the breasts.

Estrogen is the primary female hormone influencing the development of female sex characteristics including breast development. Progesterone is a secondary female reproductive hormone. It primarily prepares the uterus for pregnancy, and during pregnancy, progesterone is necessary for mammary gland development.

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