Friday, October 30, 2015

Thirty Years of Pink Ribbons - Is It Working?

The pink crusade has been going on for three decades now. Pink t-shirts, pink balloons, pink ribbons—hundreds  of millions of them—every October, year after year for thirty years.  Fundraisers and events with pink tablecloths, pink centerpieces and napkins, pink cupcakes and pink drinks. Survivors and their families – women and men – walking mile after mile in memory or in honor of a loved one. Consumers purchasing millions of products bearing the pink ribbon symbol, hoping that a portion of their money will help find a cure. 

Awareness has certainly been raised. And yet we are diagnosing more women (and men) with breast cancer than ever before and at younger ages.  How is that possible?

Corporate America has become a significant sponsor, turning everything pink from airplanes to oil delivery trucks in the process.  "Cause marketing" they call it. These corporations promise to make a contribution to "find a cure" if you buy from them, but at the same time, many of them make products containing chemicals and hormones that may actually increase breast cancer risk.

Synthetic estrogenic compounds (chemicals that mimic estrogen in the body) pervade many consumer products, including many cosmetic and personal care products that women use everyday. It's frustrating to think how many women shampoo their hair, roll on some deodorant, apply their makeup and grab a bagel with cream cheese along with a cup of coffee with hormone-laden milk on their way to a breast cancer march without ever thinking that some of the things they just put on their body or swallowed can be linked to an increased risk for the disease.

There is some good news. Organizations like the Silent Spring Institute, Breast Cancer Fund, Breast Cancer Action (and their fantastic "Think Before You Pink" campaign) and local New York-based groups like Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition and Huntington Breast Cancer ActionCoalition (HBCAC) are leaders in the movement to focus the public’s attention on prevention and the role of the environment in the development of breast cancer.

Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition uses the slogan “Prevention is the Cure,” and they're right!

Time to follow their lead.

- PJW


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