Truth be told, I believe the day will come (if it hasn’t already) that there will be adequate proof linking almost every kind of cancer to an environmental cause – from what we eat, from what we breathe, from what we put on our bodies, and the beat goes on. Bold statement from someone who is neither a doctor nor a cancer researcher right? But I can and do read – lots. So for this reader, many alarms went off when I started to see numerous articles about pinkwashing. Given that October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, pretty pink ribbon reminders were everywhere from NFL sneakers to toilet paper rolls to pink balloons at car dealerships. Reminders were pretty much everywhere you looked. That is a good thing. Breast cancer is a deadly disease. It killed my mother-in-law at 62. Yes, progress is being made in terms of finding cures and part of that is because of the millions of dollars raised for research and money to support education programs that emphasize early detection. The purpose and mission of this awareness campaign is stellar. All good, right?
Well, yes – with a caveat. If you are planning to be a donor at any time, I am simply asking you to be an informed donor. If you want to educate yourself and be courageous about handling the truth, here’s one of the best (and most upsetting) articles I read on pinkwashing. Here’s an excerpt:
“Few people realize that Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) was launched by Astra Zeneca, a pharmaceutical company that sells cancer treatments on the one hand and carcinogenic pesticides on the other. So BCAM has all along been one big marketing campaign — arguably the most successful marketing campaign of the 20th century. This is why at Breast Cancer Action, we call October “Breast Cancer Industry Month,” the month when corporations make money professing how much they care about breast cancer by selling pink ribbon products.” Karuna Jagger, Executive Director, Breast Cancer Action.
Ms. Jagger goes on to say: “Pink ribbon promotions raise billions of dollars for corporations in the name of breast cancer, and yet more than 40,000 women in the U.S. still die of the disease every year. And this year, companies are at it again, making money hand over fist by selling products in the name of breast cancer — some of which contain the very chemicals that increase a woman’s risk of the disease.”
Want one good example? Procter & Gamble is partnering with Cleaning for a Reason and Walmart to promote limited edition pink Swiffer products. Swiffer products contain various fragrances, which may include phthalates, synthetic musk and petroleum products such as toluene, each of which has been linked to cancer and other diseases and disorders. Phthalates can affect estrogen levels and can cause tumors through non-hormonal pathways.
The more I read, the more upset I got. The farther down the pink washing rabbit hole I went, the harder it was to breathe and the harder it became to control my outrage. How could “they?” Well, big money corporations can and ARE exploiting a deadly disease all in the name of increasing their profits.
Call to action? All I ask is that you think before you donate your hard earned money to a cancer cause. Do a little homework. Don’t purchase a product that results in only pennies on the dollar being spent on finding a cure. Donate to legitimate organizations whose sole purpose is to do everything they can to put an end to a disease that takes the lives of over 40,000 women every year. AND always and forever, continually educate yourself about your food, your cosmetics and your cleaning products. That’s real prevention.