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October 1961

Ramazzini and Rigoni-Stern on Parity and Breast Cancer: Clinical Impression and Statistical Corroboration

Author Affiliations


Department of Preventive Medicine, University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco.

Arch Intern Med. 1961;108(4):639-642. doi:10.1001/archinte.1961.03620100131018

The preferential selection displayed by cancer of the breast for nulliparae was noticed and recorded perhaps for the first time as far back as 250 years ago. Bernardino Ramazzini who, because of his published treatise on occupational diseases, is justly considered the father of industrial medicine, mentioned this particular observation in the chapter devoted to the diseases of wet nurses. In discussing the factors believed to determine the onset of lactation he was not entirely satisfied with the opinion held by Bartholin, namely that the apparent similarity existing between the villous placenta and the lactating breast was responsible for that unquestionable though elusive "sympathy" linking the uterus to the mammary glands. In fact, Ramazzini remarks, "milk may well be secreted in the absence of a placenta, as it is known to have happened in some virgins who have lactated; and yet we are bound to accept the existence of a