Breasts—Natural & Not So Natural.

Via on May 17, 2012
Fotosearch Stock Photo / Royalty Free

What You Need To Know About What’s Inside ‘Em.

I was innocently listening to Fresh Air on NPR when Terry Gross began talking with Florence Williams about her new book, Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History. Since I lost my only sister to breast cancer not long ago, I was drawn into my radio just like the NPR promo ads warn you; you’ll be stuck in your car unable to escape.

Florence Williams was nursing her second child when she heard a report about hundreds of poisons found in breast milk. As a science journalist, she immediately decided it was high time to investigate the breast’s vulnerability to toxins in our environment. I speculate her idea of good nutrition for her newborn child didn’t include flame retardants, dioxin, pesticides, BPA and jet fuel ingredients.

We know more about the chemistry of wine than we do about breast milk

I urge men and women alike to listen to this informative NPR conversation here. You’ll soon discover there is a lot more than fat cells and milk to appreciate about breasts.

Those who listen to Terry Gross know that she asks insightful questions. Although, as you listen, you’ll be squirming for her to ask more penetrating and provocative ones. Increasingly, breasts and our bodies in general are subjected to extraordinary concentrations of toxins from our environment and the things we manufacture and use every day.

Disappointingly, Terry fell a bit short of going for the corporate jugular. Don’t dismay, there is plenty of juice in her discussion with Florence.

It’s a super hot button with me that researchers are not focusing on root environmental causes of cancer, attributable to pervasive poisons in our ground, water and air.

When you listen to the interview, you’ll gain some good ideas about how to protect yourself and how important it is to be aware of persistent toxins in nearly everything we’re creating in our modern world.

You might want to think twice about handling those cash register receipts, since your skin absorbs the synthetic estrogen BPA (Bisphenol-A) that coats the receipts. BPA gladly enters your blood stream and finds its way to your breast tissue.

Factoid: 92% of canned goods contain BPA.

This synthetic additive is linked to everything from obesity to diabetes. Cell culture studies in human epidemiological studies indicate adverse impacts on reproductive and sexual development and fertility. Other negative impacts include cognition, neurological systems and immune system function.

A review of 800 scientific studies recently published concludes: 

it is “remarkably common” for very small amounts of hormone-disrupting chemicals to have profound, adverse effects on human health.

I was greatly relieved to discover that Alfalfa’s, our local Boulder health food store, pays extra to have BPA free paper in their registers.

flickr commons / National Archives

Men, you’re not off the hookMarines at Camp Lejeune, N.C. suffer from breast cancer too. In 2011, as part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, thirteen Marines (all men) published a calendar to raise awareness of their situation.

Okay—I’ll stop in a moment, since I really want you to have time to listen to the interview mentioned above. Before I do, however, it’s apparent that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is failing miserably to protect American citizens from dangerous chemicals in our food, personal care products and medicines.
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As Florence mentions, she was shocked to learn that almost no research is done to determine the harmful effects upon human health from hundreds, if not thousands, of “approved” chemicals in consumer products. Most people believe the government is watching out for their best interests, right? Remember, corporations are people now too. If we want overwhelming corporate influence out of our regulatory agencies and politics it’s time to repeal the Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court.

Here’s my request: as soon as you finish listening (did I mention I’d really encourage you to listen?) to the NPR interview, check out what you can do to help the Natural Resources Defense Council Fix the FDA.

One of my favorite singer song writers, David Wilcox offers his commentary on another toxic problem concerning breasts—the pervasive and invasive “augmentation” issue.

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Onward with Courage,

About Bud Wilson

As a student-athlete-activist during the tumultuous era at Harvard University Bud emerged with an interdisciplinary degree combining, child development, innovative education and urban social policy. To recover from academia, he moved to the mountains of Colorado and devoted his energy to hosting professional conferences and seminars in Snowmass Village, followed by a few years working with John Denver's Windstar Foundation. He has lots of stories to share about those formative years living in the Roaring Fork Valley. Bud continues to consult with many organizations including Newfield Network, Environmental Communications, Inc. and The Living Green Foundation, Next Culture Network, The Unified Field Corporation, Regenerative Community Development of Colorado and The Agora Projects. Bud has 25 years of experience as an awareness instructor and wilderness guide for Sacred Passage and the Way of Nature. As Global Director of Eco-Regional Leadership for The Way of Nature, in May 2011, he co-created and coordinated the first World Nature Quest. More than 35 groups in 17 countries on 5 continents simultaneously communed with the Earth for healing and renewal. His articles have been read by more than 70,000 Elephant Journal Readers His adult son, daughter and son-in-law are the source of great joy in his life.

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11 Responses to “Breasts—Natural & Not So Natural.”

  1. Alan says:

    Bravo Bud Wilson! This is so important. BPA and phytogens estrogens are EVERYWHERE! Cancer usually starts with the endocrine disrupters and the govt looks past this as it would eliminate most of the products we use. Thank you for helping to get this message out.

    • Bud Wilson says:

      You're welcome Alan – you can help by sharing the article with as many friends as you can – colleagues, family etc. I did my best to include some in depth links for people to do a bit of deeper inquiry. Our Stolen Future is an excellent book that has been out for some time now addressing the haunting endocrine disrupter issue.

  2. Jackie C. says:

    Fascinating topic, although that NPR interview struck me as a little sensationalistic – I wish they had talked more about the concentrations that were found, and what the average levels of these chemicals in breastmilk are (an n of 1 can be misleading)! I'm nursing my almost 2 year old daughter, and we try to eat organic/limit plastics use as much as possible, but it's so hard to avoid.

    • Bud Wilson says:

      Yes, Jackie, the report that I linked to which reviewed 800 scientific studies was significant because it turned the previous assumption that the "dose" or "concentration" of a toxin was the primary concern in the domain of toxicology – they showed that even tiny traces of these toxic substances like BPA were just as damaging and harmful to human health as higher concentrations. I actually thought that Florence was fairly balanced and not too hysterical or "sensational" – In my opinion, we need to be extremely vigilant regarding the pervasive chemicals that are so prevalent in our world today. My understanding is that Dioxin (another toxic chemical) is present in every woman's breast milk through out the entire world. That's a very serious indictment of the chemical industry and represent a failure of our systems and our citizens to insist that we stop polluting our planet.

  3. Jill Barth says:

    Excellent Bud, thanks for covering this.

    • Bud Wilson says:

      You can help spread the word by sharing and sending the link via email to your network. The more voices that are raised, the more likely we can change policy and hold the regulatory agencies accountable as well as pressure companies to be responsible "citizen"—after all the Supreme Court tells us they are people. Onward!

  4. Alan, from my view who cares what's in them, natural or not there's not much more too look at. Now that I said all that, great article…..thanks, Michail

    • Bud Wilson says:

      Michail – Not sure who Alan is, nonetheless – the title was more about attracting attention than worrying about breasts being natural or not… the "not so natural" reference of course was alluding to the toxic chemicals that are increasingly stored in the fatty tissues – These toxins also get stored in Brain and Liver tissue. Not a good scenario for our health. Glad you appreciated the article.

  5. Bud Wilson says:

    Just had a short video link from the Environmental Working Group passed along to me: Toxins in the umbilical chord blood of newborns. Doctors used to think the placenta was a barrier that protected the fetus from toxicity. Not So! Over 300 chemicals are present in new borns:
    Here's the link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVzTLWLq7Jk

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