Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History

Florence Williams

Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History

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 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. 4.0 out of 5 based on 4 reviews
Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Society, Politics & Philosophy, Science & Nature
Format Hardback
Pages 352
RRP
Date of Publication June 2012
ISBN 978-0393063189
Publisher W.W. Norton & Co.
 

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 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.

Reviews

The New Statesman

Helen Lewis

… a seriously good book. It’s well written, scientifically literate, engrossing and occasionally terrifying … This is a book crammed with quirky, thought-provoking facts: for example, breastfeeding expends the same amount of energy every day as walking seven miles ... But the most arresting material in the book must be the effect of our environment on breasts ... Williams explains how many plastics leach oestrogen-like substances into our food and toiletries, with worrying consequences.

27/06/2012

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The Literary Review

Charlotte Faircloth

… a witty, well-researched and eminently readable book … Williams deals with dry academic studies, but makes them accessible to the reader in an irreverent, humorous tone … At times, Breasts appears to draw slightly too heavily on evolutionary biology — a problematic theory, in that there is often confusion between the 'is' (description) and the 'ought' (what should happen).

01/07/2012

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The Evening Standard

Rosamund Urwin

… a fascinating — and occasionally frightening — exploration of these most fetishised of body parts … the scary message of her book is that we are entering a brave new world of bosoms where they have gone “from being honed by the environment to being harmed by it”. Artificial oestrogens seep from many plastics and as breasts store fat, they also store these fat-loving chemicals: “Our breasts soak up pollution like a pair of soft sponges.” This affects breast milk and has been linked to the early onset of puberty, as well as rising rates of breast cancer.

12/07/2012

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The Guardian

Zoe Williams

There is much more uncharted territory in the world of breasts than there is mature debate, but where the latter has emerged, Florence Williams's book makes a solid, readable précis of it … If anything lets this diverting book down, it's the relentlessly conversational tone ... Intended to make the book more accessible, the chattiness just interrupts the flow and makes it harder to read. But this is what your skim function is for: the meat of it is more than worthwhile.

14/07/2012

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