Feeds

Why do some people have three nipples?

The Scaramanga defect

New hybrid storage solutions

Also in this week's column:

Why do some people have three nipples?

Asked by Kumari Issar of Mumbai, India

It is not widely known, but about one in 50 women and one in 100 men have a third nipple. This goes by several names besides “third nipple”. It is a supernumerary nipple, accessory nipple, pseudomamma, polythelia, or polymastia. It is often not entirely developed as a fully functioning nipple. Sometimes it can be mistaken for a mole. The third nipple usually has no clinical significance as long as nothing else is wrong.

All mammals can develop an extra nipple. Nipple development is classified into eight levels. The first level is the mole-like nipple. The eighth level is a fully developed, female, milk-bearing breast in a female and a fully developed, male, non-milk bearing breast in a male. “Supernumerary” and “accessory” both mean extra. Pseudomamma refers to false or unnecessary breast tissue generally. Polythelia refers to the appearance of the additional nipple alone.

Polymastia refers to the appearance of the additional nipple along with the presence of mammary glands. The third nipple is merely one of those anomalies that arise in human populations. Call it a birth defect if you will, but it is not a very important one. The third nipple usually forms along the two vertical “milk lines” which start from the armpit, run down through the breasts, and further down to the groin in both women and men.

A team from the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre in London has recently discovered the gene that makes the growth factor that triggers breast and nipple growth. The team of researchers, headed by Dr. Alan Ashworth, has named the gene, the Scaramanga gene, after the three-nippled villain in the James Bond film, “The Man With The Golden Gun” (played by Christopher Lee). The discovery allows researchers to move one step closer to growing breast tissue in the laboratory and thus better study breast cancer and other breast tissues diseases. See Genes and Development (September, 2005).

A third nipple usually occurs somewhere on the chest, but not always. Brazilian researchers recently reported the first case of a nipple occurring on (wait for it) the bottom of the foot. The case is that of a 22-year-old woman. Her foot nipple was fairly well developed with “well-formed nipple surrounded by areola and hair”. Dr. D.M. Conde and three colleagues from the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at the Hospital Estadual Sumare and the Universidade Estadual de Campinas in Sumara reported the case in May 2006 in Dermatology Online Journal.

Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to s.juan@edfac.usyd.edu.au

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Chelyabinsk-sized SURPRISE asteroid to skim Earth, satnav birds
Space rock appears out of nowhere, buzzes planet on Sunday
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Square Kilometre Array reveals its 1.6TB-a-day storage and network rigs
Boolardy Engineering Test Array - aka BETA - is about to come out of Beta
LOHAN invites ENTIRE REG READERSHIP to New Mexico shindig
Well, those of you who back our Kickstarter tin-rattling...
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.