CHE-Alaska Teleconference recorded October 24, 2012

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About the Call:

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?

Science journalist Florence Williams discusses the unsettling findings she uncovered in researching her book Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History. Williams talks about 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.” She also discusses 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.


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.