Warning: Pink ribbons don’t cure breast cancer

Must everything be commercialized – even cancer?

Must everything be commercialized – even cancer?

This is a question that more and more women who have breast cancer are asking in rising vexation over what’s become know as the “pinkification” of their disease. They’re referring to the ubiquitous breast cancer awareness campaign that uses pink ribbons and pink everything to promote mammograms for early detection of the cancer. Sounds innocent enough, except for a couple of ugly realities.

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Pink Problem Number One is that the campaign has become a cheap way for profiteering corporations to glom onto a feel-good cause, literally wrapping themselves in pink to sell their products under the guise that they are altruists helping women fight this deadly illness. For example, during October’s “Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” Delta Air Lines dresses flight attendants in pink and sells pink lemonade on its flights, Ford sells “pink warrior” decals for its cars, and Dick’s Sporting Goods offers pink football cleats and other specially-tinted merchandise.

Pink Problem Number Two is that the millions of dollars thrown into these corporate and charitable PR campaigns are focused on detection of the disease, rather than on the more crucial needs of developing preventative measures and cures, caring for those who do get the cancer, and mounting an all-out research effort to determine its environmental causes. “What do we have to show for the billions spent on pink ribbon products?” asks the director of the activist group, Breast Cancer Action.” A lot of us are done with awareness,” she says. “We want action.”

We’ve had 25 years of what breast cancer activist now call “pinkwashing,” yet the disease is as rampant as ever. Wearing a pink ribbon is not enough – to help shift the effort into causes, cures, and caring, go to www.BreastCancerDeadline2020.org.

“Some Breast Cancer Activists Assail Rampant ‘Pinkification’ of October,” The New York Times, October 31, 2015.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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