Unnatural History: Breast Cancer and American Society

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Cambridge University Press, Oct 8, 2007 - Health & Fitness - 366 pages
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In the early nineteenth century in the United States, cancer in the breast was a rare disease. Now it seems that breast cancer is everywhere. Written by a medical historian who is also a doctor, Unnatural History tells how and why this happened. Rather than there simply being more disease, breast cancer has entered the bodies of so many American women and the concerns of nearly all the rest, mostly as a result of how we have detected, labeled, and responded to the disease. The book traces changing definitions and understandings of breast cancer, the experience of breast cancer sufferers, clinical and public health practices, and individual and societal fears.

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Unnatural history: breast cancer and American society

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A disease of such a private nature not all that long ago-one rarely discussed owing to its mostly female orientation and sexual implications-has become a national obsession and the focus of millions ... Read full review


1 Introduction
2 Cancer in the Breast 1813
3 Pessimism and Promise
4 Taking Responsibility for Cancer
5 Living at Risk
The War Against Time
Skeptics of the Cancer Establishment at MidCentury
Rachel Carson
9 The Rise of Surveillance
10 Crisis in Prevention
Waiting for the Axe to Fall

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About the author (2007)

Robert A. Aronowitz studied linguistics before receiving his M.D. from Yale University. After finishing residency in Internal Medicine, he studied the history of medicine as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr Aronowitz is currently Associate Professor in the History and Sociology of Science Department at the University of Pennsylvania. He continues to practise medicine, holding a joint appointment with the medical school's department of Family Practice and Community Medicine. Dr Aronowitz was the founding director of Penn's Health and Societies program. He also co-directs the Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars Program, a post-doctoral program focused on population health. In 2005-6, he was a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. Dr Aronowitz's central research interests are in the history of twentieth-century disease, epidemiology, and population health. He is the author of Making Sense of Illness: Science, Society, and Disease (Cambridge, 1998). Dr Aronowitz is currently working on a historical project on the social framing of health risks, for which he received an Investigator Award in Health Policy from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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