” – but people have drank milk for centuries”

Bathsheba with The Letter Of David by Rembrandt  1654.

The picture above is called “Bathsheba with The Letter Of David”. It was painted by Rembrandt in 1654. I came across it in “The No Dairy Breast Cancer Prevention Program” ( page 101 ).

As you can see the model Rembrandt used has a large tumor on her left breast. I am not an art expert of any kind. I don’t know if the tumor was painted there as part of the story of the painting or if this particular model just happened to have breast cancer.

Dr. Plant mentioned the painting in her book as food for thought to people who make the point ” -but people have been drinking milk for centuries”. People have also been getting cancer for centuries and often enough to show up in the art of the time. In the year 1654, any cows milk people were drinking was likely raw, unpasteurized and organic. So, while modern production methods undoubtedly contribute to the unhealthy nature of cows milk it isn’t the whole story. For more details please click on the above link to my review of her book.

A frequent topic of conversation about medical science and research is how it seems like many diseases are more frequent in our time. Nobody doubts that the changes people have caused in our environments helps explains this. However, the very salient point is made that with improved diagnostics another possibility is that it only seems like particular diseases are increasing. Some diseases seem to be on the increase because we now know how to recognize those diseases and we now have the institutional infrastructures to measure the occurrence of those diseases as well as communicate about it.

In other words, yes, back in the good old days people drank milk, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they were free of breast cancer. It could be that they didn’t know what it was, that they didn’t call it the same thing we did or that they didn’t communicate about it as much as we do.

The painting above at least tells us that breast cancer existed back in the year 1654.

So, if you are concerned about your health you might take the argument ” but people have always drank milk” with some salt.

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2 thoughts on “” – but people have drank milk for centuries””

  1. The ‘for centuries’ is no more logical than saying such about meat. People doing something for a long time doesn’t make it right…I just point out murder, war, rape etc have been done a long time, doesn’t make it right…the same for the subjugation of women, gays, blacks, etc.

  2. While, I respect your stand against Breast Cancer, I would like to note that the identification of Bathsheba’s deformed breast cannot be conclusively determined. Breast cancer is only on hypothesis with a tuberculous abscess and lactation mastitis as other alternatives. Breast Cancer activists do sometimes seem to cloud over the fact that there are other diseases of the breast. The model, according to the bulk of evidence, is Hendrickje Stoffels, a woman who lived for another nine years. Nine years with untreated breast cancer, visibly manifest in a large malignant tumor? Unlikely. However, to be fair, it has also been posited that Stoffels’ head was painted onto the body of another model, in which case we still don’t know what actually caused the deformity. It is never a good idea to use as canon fodder a work of art painted 350 years ago. With no substantial historical record to speak of, one is left with very flimsy protestations of certainty. It would be better to seek an alternative mode of marketing ones’ cause.

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