WHY I DON’T BUY PINK RIBBON PRODUCTS OR DONATE TO BREAST CANCER RESEARCH
Ah, October… one of my favorite months. Not too hot or cold, pumpkin spice everything, and new seasonal veggies popping up at the farmers markets. But a constant frustration every October- an omnipresent, pink, faux-positive phenomenon- is the inevitable Pink Ribbon campaign. Suddenly stores and social media feeds are filled with items repackaged in pink or limited edition pink ribbon products touted as particularly worth purchasing because part of the proceeds are donated to “finding a cure for breast cancer.” Energy drinks, lipsticks, shoes, household products, NFL gear (apparently the NFL cares about women getting breast cancer more than it does about women suffering from acts of domestic violence at the hands of some of their players as we’ve seen all too clearly as of 2014)…
Breast cancer, like all cancers and individuals who suffer from them, deserves responsible research and authentic, therapeutic remedy. However, this doesn’t seem to be what the Pink Ribbon campaign is about. As the thought-provoking documentary (and book) Pink Ribbons, Inc. makes clear, breast cancer research fundraising is a business, and it is big business. It seems to be a perpetual carrot-and-stick situation in which no matter how many hundreds of millions of dollars we pay toward breast cancer research or public “education” about breast cancer brought to you buy the organizations collecting funds, women continue to develop this condition in increasing numbers. I highly recommend checking out Pink Ribbons, Inc and learning about the distasteful beginnings of the entire campaign.
My beef is two-fold. The first concern is that breast cancer research appears to be after a magical PHARMACEUTICAL “cure” that can be patented in order to deliver more endless financial gain even once all the research has reached its goal, if that ever actually happens. Though fundraising is such a profitable business I’d be surprised if its corporate orchestrators would ever want to give it up.Suppose those hundreds of millions of dollars per year went toward research into nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics, which study how nutrition can impact gene expression and up-regulate or down-regulate genes that may be desirable or undesirable. Imagine if it went to educating people about, and even (gasp!) PROVIDING people with extremely nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory foods each day that can give our bodies what they need to fend off cancer naturally or help cancer patients deal with chemo poisoning. Perhaps we could also develop a powerful treatment protocol for women already diagnosed with cancer that is more savvy than poisoning the whole body with chemo or disrupting hormones with Tamoxifen (which can potentially contribute to other cancers). Or suppose all that cash went to ridding women’s personal products of chemicals that are known carcinogenic compounds…
And that’s the second part I take issue with. So many of the products sold as “pink ribbon” products, such as many cosmetics and household products, actually CONTAIN suspected cancer-causing chemicals. It’s totally irresponsible to market chemical-laden products in support of breast cancer awareness.
Instead of the above options, we give our money to organizations like the Susan G. Komen Foundation so that it can fund testing drugs on animals that have been injected with cancer cells. How is this helping humans exactly? *As an important side note, if you’re interested in telling these organizations to stop funding unscientific testing on kitties, puppies, monkeys, bunnies, etc, pop over here to sign this petition, one of PETA’s more worthwhile campaigns.*
To be clear, victims of breast cancer and their families deserve the utmost support, positivity, and charity. But it seems that these are being misplaced in the Pink Ribbon campaign. We are giving to drug companies, to product manufacturers, and to ineffective organizations while there are women struggling to pay hospital bills, support their families, or even struggling to really learn how to protect their bodies whether they have developed cancer or not.
Research is on the wrong path. It is searching for a pill or a vaccine or an endless stream of profit, not for a way to fortify our bodies against all cancers and help us to thrive. And all these cutesy pink products we’re spending money on each October are feel-good distractions, and in the case of some edibles, cosmetics, and households items, are actually unhealthy as well.
If you know someone with breast cancer, give them support directly whether it’s emotional support, direct financial assistance, care-taking, or whatever they might express the need for. This will be so much more valuable than buying yourself a new pink Estee Lauder nail polish.
Want something pink this month that helps our bodies to fight off cancer cells? Try these…