How accurate is that viral 'milk duct' photo?

Caroline Allen
An image supposedly showing a woman’s milk ducts went viral on Twitter. [Photo: @lemonadead via Twitter]

You’ve probably seen this image doing the rounds on social media, courtesy of a viral tweet.

The image depicts the female muscle system, which supposedly includes an anatomically correct look at what a woman’s milk ducts look like.

But, how accurate is it?

Not very, according to a science article which appears to break down exactly why this isn’t what our milk ducts really look like.

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The image started circulating a few days ago and it has since been shared almost 200,000 times.

Accompanying the image, the woman wrote: “I just realised [sic] I never saw a photo of a female muscle system. This is NOT what I imagined milk ducts to look like.”

If you were one of the tens of thousands of women finding this image “traumatising”, then fear not.

Health website, Science Alert, have since debunked the image. It claims the photo and its context are not “entirely correct”.

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The article states: “For starters, breasts don’t actually contain skeletal muscle. (There are some cells and tissue in there that’s sort-of like smooth muscle, but that’s not what this diagram claims to be depicting.)”

So, what are those petal-like shapes? The app’s description vaguely refers to the red blobs as ‘the mammary gland’, which is pretty unhelpful since the entire boob is actually a mammary gland.”

It goes on to explain that it’s structured rather differently.

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The “flower shaped things” in the picture aren’t actually milk ducts at all. The article suggests they are in fact “lobules”.

Lobules are clusters of alveoli. And alveoli are the cells responsible for producing milk. What’s more, in human breasts they’re “not arranged in such a neat pattern at all.”

There we have it. It turns out we didn’t miss a large portion of school biology, after all.

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