Audie Award Winner, Nonfiction, 2013
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.
©2012 Florence Williams (P)2012 Tantor
"[A] remarkably informative and compelling work of discovery." (Booklist)
Let's face it, these authors aren't paying me, so there's no need to lie!!
Every woman should read this, ESPECIALLY if you're going to have children. It goes into great detail about the environmental and dietary pollutants that can poison breast milk. Tells you the things you should stay away from. It also discusses the benefits of different tests you can have done on your breasts, blood, and breast milk.
If you're a guy (like me) and your wife is pregnant, it wouldn't be a bad idea to read this, just to familiarize yourself with all the options out there. It touches briefly on male breast cancer, which I found fascinating--- and scary. In all honesty, if you're a guy, you probably won't enjoy this book. However, it's best to take the approach that you'll be reading it more as a favor to your significant other.
The reader is very good. It's a science book, but written more like satire, which should hold your interest.
I enjoyed parts of the book which were less science and more trivia. Lots of talk about toxins and measuring these toxins in people. Little science to show any real problem despite all the inuendo. Overall it seemed like some one with an agenda who took the word of research she felt had truthiness. I am not saying it might not be true but a more balanced view would be nice, or at least stating how she tried to find alternate opinions but these views were held by a small fringe.
This book presents a lot of great information, but overall lacks the cohesion to make it a great read. Although the author does an excellent job grabbing the readers attention in the beginning of the book, she slowly departs from the main topic and leaves the reader wondering where she is going. Everything she speaks about is loosely relevant to breasts but in certain parts, she focuses far too much on the sub-topics and only touches on how they relate to breasts. While this provides the reader with a great deal of information on topics such as fire retardant materials and plastics, it takes time and attention away from the main topic.
Kate Reading is an interesting choice for narrator. While she is one of my favorite female readers, having her read this book is like talking about breasts with a favorite aunt, slightly awkward.
I believe that the information on breast cancer alone makes this book worth reading. The books agenda in promoting awareness of breast cancer is admirable and a great plus. Unfortunately the chaotic and loosely organized structure of the book bring it down from a great book to simply mediocre.
I learned some interesting facts about the plethora of environmental threats to breast health, and I was very pleased that Williams included men's breast cancer in her discussion, but I was surprised that her research did not go beyond the Women's Health Initiative (a flawed study that is 11 years old) when it came to conclusions about the risks/benefits of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). She spoke only about Premarin and glibly dismissed bioidentical hormone replacement in one short sentence, despite the fact that there are some (admittedly, early) data out there.
Kudos to Williams for taking a critical look at mammography and for exploring some alternative breast cancer detection technologies, but why did she completely ignore thermography--a detection method that does not zap us with radiation (like mammography), is not time consumptive (like the ultrasound method that she discusses), and is not hugely expensive (like MRIs)?
Interesting, scary, but--ultimately--disappointing.
Kate Reading read the book like an adventure/romance novel; she's no Malcolm Gladwell, that's for sure. And, really, Camp "LejuRne"?
This is an interesting book, though scattered in its presentation. It ranged from being very detailed and scientific to casual and flip. (Isn't it the female XX chromosome and not the XX gene?) I listen to books in my car to and from work and this book didn't hold my attention very well. I would find my mind wandering and then would have to rewind to catch up. The attempts at humor were short and seemed out of place. I don't know if the author was trying to emulate Mary Roach's books, but it just doesn't fly. I'm sure the narrator is good at what she does, but this being a non-fiction book, I didn't see the need for her to change her voice/accent when quoting researchers. It took away from the experience. I can't say I will recommend it.
I want to read books that take me to a "place and/or time" I've never been. On the other hand, I love reading about places where I HAVE been.
Comprehensive and scientific without being overly clinical. Extremely well researched and informative. Lots of funny anecdotes. Completely engaging and highly recommended for any person with breasts.
Americans are obsessed with breasts as sexual signifiers. As a result, their real beauty and purpose become obscured. This delightful, well-written, and carefully researched book examines many facets of our breasts including breast enhancement and the real role of the breast--feeding our young. I particularly enjoyed Williams study of the environmental hazards that we are exposed to on a daily basis. Finally, the narrator's matter of fact reading invited the listener to pause and consider that maginificent orb--the human breast.
A MUST read for all women. This is lovingly and brutally honest.
Her summary statements about women's breasts being the filters for all things toxic makes me want to rid the world of toxicity in another way.
This story is definitely told by a "greenie" . The use of terms a chemist would only know was troubling. A lot of facts were presented and dire consequences foretold. I think it was necessary but all the three and four letter compounds left one wondering what it all means.
The narrator is exceptional. Her voice inflection underscores the narrative and enhances understanding and enjoyment of the text.
The fact that we live day to day with unregulated chemicals that are affecting not only breasts, but everything around us.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in health related environmental causes. This is an important and accessible book.
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