Bathsheba's Breast: Women, Cancer & History

 

Bathsheba's Breast: Women, Cancer & History

 

In 1654, Rembrandt painted a picture of his mistress entitled “Bathsheba at her bath”. Over 300 years later, an Italian physician viewed the painting and noticed several characteristics of the left breast indicative of breast cancer. This title underlies James S. Olson’s book: Bathsheba’s breast: women, cancer & history, in which he examines breast cancer throughout history.

The first descriptions of breast cancer were traced back to Egypt in 1500 BCE. In the fifth century BCE, Hippocrates led the quest to determine the scientific underpinnings of this disease, eventually attributing its cause to “black bile”. It wasn’t until the 1700s when these beliefs were overtaken by more cell-based theories, and tumour removal under surgery was considered to be the most appropriate treatment.

From the 1900s, a steady advance in scientific and therapeutic approaches to treatment began. Surgeries performed without antiseptic or anaesthesia, superradical mastectomies removing whole sections of women’s bodies, and adrenalectomies, oophorectomies, and hypophysectomies were all commonplace in the treatment of the cancer and to reduce the risk of recurrence.

It wasn’t until the 1930s and 1940s that radiotherapy and chemotherapy took hold, spurred by chemical discoveries and the demand for less mutilating treatments. The age of female liberation in the 1970s began to form current approaches including mammography, lumpectomy, and hormone therapy.

Many women throughout history have fought breast cancer. Theodora, Empress of Byzantium, refused a mastectomy after repeated excisions and cauterisation, and died of breast cancer in 584 AD. Anne of Austria, the queen mother of France, died of breast cancer in 1666 at the Val-de-Grace convent that she had founded – in this sanctuary, she had cared for many nuns with the same disease. Klara Hitler, Adolf Hitler’s mother, died of breast cancer after diagnosis and treatment in 1905. Over 30 years later, Hitler provided her physician, Edward Bloch, safe flight from Germany despite knowing that he was Jewish.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1137016/

James S. Olson. Bathsheba’s breast Women, cancer & history.
2005.Johns Hopkins University Press.: Baltimore, Maryland, USA.302 pp. ISBN: 0-8018-8064-5 (paperback).

Tramadol tied to higher mortality rates than NSAIDs in osteoarthritis patients

Tramadol tied to higher mortality rates than NSAIDs in osteoarthritis patients

A new study has shown that patients with osteoarthritis (OA)
who were treated with tramadol had a significantly higher ...

George Floyd protests - The CMA's position

Researchers discover biomarks of ALS in teeth

News

Nordic Cuddle is delighted to be the first company to accredit a cuddle therapy course with The CMA. In doing so, The CMA has brought onboard a new form of touch-therapy which is growing in popularity around the world.

People with endocrine disorders may see their condition worsen as a result of COVID-19, according to a new review published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.

Veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may benefit from one simple, inexpensive treatment involving nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas.

New research from The University of Queensland has found that women who have hot flushes and night sweats after menopause are 70 per cent more likely to have heart attacks, angina and strokes.

The COMPLEMENTARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (The CMA) © 2012. No part of this site may be reproduced without the express permission of The Complementary Medical Association. If used without prior consent a charge of US $1,000 per article, or mini section is paid (US $50 per word (minimum) will be charged. This is not meant to reflect a commercial rate for the content, but as a punitive cost and to reimburse The CMA for legal fees and time costs). Use of the contents, without permission will be taken as consent to bill the illegal user in full.