Monday, September 17, 2012

Book Review: Breasts a Natural and Unnatural History by Florence Williams

  Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History opened my eyes to many aspects of that which have always been in front of me.  Florence Williams does a great job of describing her subject matter in scientific detail but layman's terms.

She starts out with a history of mammals and the importance of breasts to infants and the species.  She describes the breast itself-- from its makeup to its development over the course of one lifetime, as well as its social history and the history of implants.  She went an interviewed the first woman who had an implant, and even went to see a doctor about an implant for her-- to get some experience with the process.  All of this she describes with the detachment and professionalism of a journalist.

She talks about breastfeeding, and about the impact of industrialization and chemicals on breast milk and breast tissue.  This was, for me, who is nursing my second baby, the most fascinating part of the book.  She did an experiment by getting her own exposure to toxins measured before and after a mini plastic avoidance period, and the results were amazingly significant.  This section was so stunning to me that I went out and bought glass jars to cart around my kids' snacks in instead of little plastic snack traps.  I have also been trying to pay attention to where we use plastic and am thinking of trying to remove more plastics from our lives and our home.  The impact of them on us, and our developing children (especially girls) is really stunning, and she lays it all out and cites numerous studies beyond her own experiences.

Along the same vein, Williams discusses medications such as the pill and their impact on the breast.  She discusses breast and ovarian cancer, and a block of men with breast cancer who all lived on the same contaminated land in their youth.  The discussion is all at once riveting and enlightening.  She ends with more discussion about the future of breasts and our lives.

I really enjoyed reading this, and highly recommend it.  I think men and women both would learn from this book, and its style is so approachable that you are getting hard facts without having to wade through too much extra information. Pin It

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