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Entries in Breast Cancer Aware-less Month (3)


Breast Cancer Aware-less Month

We're one day away from the so-called "Breast Cancer Awareness Month," when companies and mis-labeled breast cancer "awareness" organizations turn everything pink. And then monetize it.

Breast Cancer Action (BCA), a respected watchdog organization, recently announced its "Raise a Stink!" campaign, "which urges Susan G. Komen for the Cure to immediately recall their commissioned 'Promise Me' perfume and to commit to putting patients before profits by taking every precaution when it comes to the ingredients in the pink ribbon products they promote."  Read more about the Raise a Stink! movement here.

It's remarkable that in 2011, companies and organizations claiming to want to reduce the incidence of breast cancer (as well as all cancers) are the very ones using chemicals and ingredients known to cause cancer. Indeed, the Breast Cancer Awareness brand itself is owned by the pharmaceutical giant Astrazeneca, which profits directly from people having cancer. (AstraZeneca is the maker of several breast cancer chemotherapy drugs.) Here's a summary of the controversy on Wikipedia, referring to the great work done by BCA:

"Sometimes referred to as 'National Breast Cancer Industry Month,' critics of NBCAM point to a conflict of interest between corporations sponsoring breast cancer awareness while profiting from diagnosis and treatment. The breast cancer advocacy organization, Breast Cancer Action, has said repeatedly in newsletters and other information sources that October has become a public relations campaign that avoids discussion of the causes and prevention of breast cancer and instead focuses on “awareness” as a way to encourage women to get their mammograms."

(Mammograms, by the way, are the engine that powers the massive apparatus of over-treatment of breast cancer, to the tune of staggering profits for those providing the procedures and drugs.)

As consumers, we must continue to educate ourselves and use our collective power to demand safe ingredients only. As we say in our book, there's a better "standard of care"--everything you put on, or in, or around your body is either helping cancer, or it's helping your body. That's true prevention.

To use a phrase coined by Breast Cancer Action, it's time to stop the "pinkwashing." We can do so much better than this. It's time for true prevention. It's time for smarter, safer products, and smarter, safer treatments. It's time to come up with a new mantra for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We humbly suggest this one: It's time to declare peace on breast cancer.


Pink Ribbon Blues

If you're looking for some perspective in the midst of October's pinkwashing, check out Gayle Sulik's new book Pink Ribbon Blues. It's the culmination of nine years of research into the so-called breast cancer awareness movement. Here's a blurb from the book's site:

"In this compelling and provocative work, Sulik shows that while "pink ribbon culture" has brought breast cancer much attention, it has not had the desired effect of improving women's health. It may, in fact, have done the opposite." 

We couldn't have said it better ourselves!



Think Before You Pink

We're big fans of the "Think Before You Pink" movement, which is a project of Breast Cancer Action (BCA). BCA describes itself as "the watchdog of the breast cancer movement" and "the only national breast cancer organization that does not accept funding from entities that profit from or contribute to cancer, including the pharmaceutical industry." 

Think Before You Pink is a campaign that "calls for more transparency and accountability by companies that take part in breast cancer fundraising, and encourages consumers to ask critical questions about pink ribbon promotions." In our book, we discuss the problem of how the conventional cancer world is a juggernaut, and BCA does great work in trying to restore some of the balance of power in dealing with cancer. If you're feeling a little queasy from all the pink this month, follow BCA and the TBYP project in order to add some perspective. With Breast Cancer Awareness Month now underway, we'll be blogging and linking to Think Before You Pink quite a bit.