The Unnatural History of Breasts: Industrial Chemicals, Breast Cancer, and Early Puberty

October 24, 2012
1:00 pm US Eastern Time

Listen to Recording

The incidence of breast cancer worldwide has doubled since 1940 and continues to rise. Young girls are developing breasts earlier than ever before. What role might chemicals in the environment be playing in these profound changes?

CHE-Alaska hosted this call with science journalist Florence Williams for a discussion of the unsettling findings she uncovered in researching her new book Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History. Participants learned why breasts are humanity’s first responders to environmental changes and how they are, as Florence writes, “a particularly fine mirror of our industrial lives.” We found out how certain chemicals may interact with hormone levels, altering breast development and increasing a woman’s risk of breast cancer and why some chemicals are being looked at as possible culprits in early puberty.

Featured Speaker

Florence Williams is a contributing editor at Outside Magazine and a freelance writer for New York TimesNew York Times Magazine, SlateMother Jones, High Country News, O-Oprah, W., Bicycling and numerous other publications. She was a Scripps Fellow at the Center of Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado in 2007-2008. She has received many awards, including six magazine awards from the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the John Hersey Prize at Yale. Her first book, BREASTS: A Natural and Unnatural History, was recently published by W.W. Norton. The manuscript was named a finalist for the 2011 Columbia/Nieman Lukas Work-in-Progress Award.

The call lasted one hour and was recorded.