Opinion

Think before you buy pink for breast cancer | Amy Johnson

Let’s talk about pink.

Perhaps you are already pinked-out this month from pink ribbons, pink candy, pink clothing, and pink accessories sported by NFL players.

Or perhaps you’re excited that the Susan G. Komen Foundation has teamed up with Seattle gun distributor Discount Gun Sales LLC to sell pink handguns.

Maybe you’re wondering where Komen draws the line. It’s with porn.

The foundation recently announced it would not accept a donation from Pornhub.com, even though the site’s owners were planning to give nearly $25,000 to Komen this month from views of certain “breast-related videos.” The rejection came in spite of Pornhub’s message: “Together we can give fundraising our breast shot!”

According to research from Cone Communications, four out of five consumers are likely to shift to a brand that supports a cause, if everything else is equal. Some would argue this is our free market economy at work, and it’s all for a good cause.

But is it?

Certain companies are selling pink products to support breast cancer awareness, when those same products contain cancer-causing ingredients.

Eli Lilly, which makes drugs to treat breast cancer, is now the only company to manufacture rBGH, an artificial growth hormone linked with breast cancer. What’s good about that?

The National Breast Cancer Coalition reports that breast cancer awareness campaigns have been successful at raising, well, awareness. They have not made a significant impact on lowering the incidents of women with stage 4 breast cancer or on deaths from breast cancer.

African American women still have a higher mortality rate from breast cancer than white women or women of other races. And while low-income women may receive more mammograms because of raised awareness, treatment for them once they are diagnosed is still often out of their reach due to lack of health care coverage and cost.

Not only that, but recent research out of Washington University in St. Louis has identified four genetically distinct types of breast cancer, each of which responds to different treatments. This issue is much more complicated and multi-layered than pink ribbons, pink M&Ms, or pink anything.

Enter a growing cadre of women breast cancer survivors who are increasingly outraged that their horrific, life-threatening conditions are being fluffed over and pinkified. It’s like our “disease is being used for people to profit,” says one survivor, in a trailer for the movie “Pink Ribbons, Inc.,” which opened earlier this year.

More and more women “resent the effort to make breast cancer pretty and feminine and normal. It’s not normal, it’s horrible,” says another woman in the film.

Before you buy anything else pink this month that seems to be associated with breast cancer awareness, ask these questions from ThinkBeforeYouPink.org:

• Does any money from this purchase go to support breast cancer programs? How much?

• What organization will get the money?

• What will they do with the funds, and how do these programs turn the tide of the breast cancer epidemic?

• Is there a limit on the amount the company will donate and has this maximum donation already been met?

• Does this purchase put you or someone you love at risk for exposure to toxins linked to breast cancer?

• What is the company doing to ensure that its products are not contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?

Better yet, send a donation directly to the organization you support.

Forget focusing on pink. Think before you buy. Think before you give.  It’s what this month is all about.

Resources

• Below are some with even higher ratings on CharityNavigator.org than the Komen Foundation.

• Breast Cancer Fund: www.breastcancerfund.org

• Young Survivor Coalition: www.youngsurvival.org

• BreastCancer.org

• Living Beyond Breast Cancer: http://www.lbbc.org

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