Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History

Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History

Audiobook(CD - Library - Unabridged CD)

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An engaging narrative about an incredible, life-giving organ and its imperiled modern fate.

Did you know that breast milk contains substances similar to cannabis? Or that it’s sold on the Internet for 262 times the price of oil? Feted and fetishized, the breast is an evolutionary masterpiece. But in the modern world, the breast is changing. Breasts are getting bigger, arriving earlier, and attracting newfangled chemicals. Increasingly, the odds are stacked against us in the struggle with breast cancer, even among men. What makes breasts so mercurial—and so vulnerable?

In this informative and highly entertaining account, intrepid science reporter Florence Williams sets out to uncover the latest scientific findings from the fields of anthropology, biology, and medicine. Her investigation follows the life cycle of the breast from puberty to pregnancy to menopause, taking her from a plastic surgeon’s office where she learns about the importance of cup size in Texas to the laboratory where she discovers the presence of environmental toxins in her own breast milk. The result is a fascinating exploration of where breasts came from, where they have ended up, and what we can do to save them.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781452637600
Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date: 05/07/2012
Edition description: Library - Unabridged CD
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Florence Williams is a journalist and contributing editor to Outside magazine. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, and National Geographic among others. Her first book, Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2012 and the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Science and Technology. Williams lives in Washington, DC.

Table of Contents

Introduction. Planet Breast 11

Chapter 1 For Whom the Bells Toll 29

Chapter 2 Circular Beginnings 65

Chapter 3 Plumbing: A Primer 79

Chapter 4 Fill Her Up 95

Chapter 5 Toxic Assets: The Growing Breast 139

Chapter 6 Shampoo, Macaroni, and the American Girl: Spring Comes Early 167

Chapter 7 The Pregnancy Paradox 223

Chapter 8 What's for Dinner? 247

Chapter 9 Holy Crap: Herman, Hamlet, and the All-Important Human Gut 271

Chapter 10 Sour Milk 309

Chapter 11 An Unfamiliar Wilderness: Periods, the Pill, and HRT 341

Chapter 12 The Few. The Proud. The Afflicted: Can Marines Solve the Puzzle of Breast Cancer? 367

Chapter 13 Are You Dense? The Aging Breast 397

Chapter 14 The Future of Breasts 425

Acknowledgments 437

Notes 443

Permission Credits 523

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"[A] remarkably informative and compellingwork of discovery." —-Booklist Starred Review

Mary Roach

Florence Williams's double-D talents as a reporter and writer lift this book high above the genre and separate it from the ranks of ordinary science writing. Breasts is illuminating, surprising, clever, important. Williams is an author to savor and look forward to.

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Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
gfrenchy More than 1 year ago
What a fascinating study of our breasts! Florence Williams asks questions I would not think of asking, but I am keenly interested in the answers. I was so enthralled with this book that I missed subway stops and used even the short ride in the elevator as an opportunity to catch a paragraph or two. This book does have a decidedly biological bend, but that is key to understanding (or at least starting to understand) how these fabulous organs work. As a nursing mother, this book both scared me (breasts share environmental toxins with our babies) and inspired me (breasts also share a complex biological ecosystem with those babies). I recommend this book to everyone who is interested not only in the sociological or cultural aspect of breasts (although there is some of that), but in how these beauties work and impact our lives from nursing babies to implants to breast cancer.
feather_lashes More than 1 year ago
Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History is a nonfiction, science book researched and written by science reporter Florence Williams. The information presented in this book was not only incredibly informative, but it altered my perspective on breast health in general. Ms. Williams discusses the breast in scientific detail, from an evolution perspective as to why the breast starting developing in the first place to how our modern life (water/air pollution, toxic chemicals, oral contraception, etc.) is negatively affecting its health. She used herself as a lab rat during her research for this book and exposed herself to common American conveniences, along with everyday chemicals/materials and then collected data via blood/urine/breast milk testing. The results she provided were shocking...and frightening! We're talking about chemicals present in rocket fuel!!! Nonfiction/Science books should have their own horror genre. Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History has all the elements of a true horror, and I can't say I finished the book with much hope. However, books like this give important information, and knowledge is power... Power to support research in any way we can, along with empowering every woman (and man) to advocate for "early detection" screenings as a way to manage her/his individual breast health. Every culture and gender would likely benefit from educating themselves on the damaging affects of the modern world, whether it's from reading this book or another. My favorite quote: “Much about our environment is better than ever. We have fewer parasites and infectious disease. Most of us are protected from extreme weather and food shortages. On the whole, people in developed countries are smoking less and living longer than ever before. But when girls reach puberty earlier, their young lives face new and difficult challenges. Toxins in breast milk run the risk of affecting the cognitive, behavioral, and physical health of our children, and breast cancer will on average shave thirteen years off a woman's life. We now understand health to be more than a measure of longevity. Our goal should be the live the best lives we can.”
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We can go in my bedroom
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kissee her fiercely squeezing her breasts then sucked her neck
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Important info for all women to read! The book is a little all over the place, but the research is undeniably current and fascinating. I am buying seveal copies for my girlfriends. I will never think of my "breasts" in the same way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a must-read for every woman on the planet and for most men too. It's written in easy to comprehend language which is like a cold slap in the face couched with a soft caress. It's important for any woman who is considering becoming a mother, ever. It's important for women who have already become mothers. It's important for any woman who will ever reach menopause. It's not just about what we put in our bodies and where it eventually turns up - but what we breathe, what we sit on, what we wear - essentially all aspects of our lives. Florence Williams tells this story with humor yet with urgency. She has done massive research for our benefit and I think it's amazing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although I chose to read this book as a joke, the idea of learning about an organ I know little about seemed interesting. The book started with fascinating facts about the evolution of breasts and possible explanations as to why they evolved. Unfortunately, the remainder of the book went into excrutiatingly scientific detail about all the latent toxins breasts absorb. I was disappointed to find that most of this book turned out to be about how pervasive harmful chemicals are in our lives. I was hoping for more about the history of breasts, cultural differences regarding how society regards them, or what they say about us as one of the only species to treat them functionally and astheticly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found the book interesting at first, with many details about the breast and history of it. But as I kept reading I found it too depressing and worrisome to finish.