May 17, 2012

Breasts—Natural & Not So Natural.

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.
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.

Onward with Courage,

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