What have all these pink power products and promotions done for those folks living with and at risk of breast cancer?
Years ago, the awareness efforts were about empowering women to make educated health choices while providing them with accurate information. The higher goal was to find a cure for breast cancer, reduce incidence and save lives. But now it seems like the program has gone off track since the pink ribbon message of awareness took over. Breast cancer has become more of a business opportunity than a cause.
So many of these pink ribbon awareness promotions focus on breasts, not cancer. Breast cancer awareness taglines and campaigns often rely on double-entendres and innuendos to make breast cancer sexy and sell-able, with messages like “Save the Ta-Ta’s!” and “I Heart Boobies!” Even NASCAR is selling breast cancer awareness t-shirts that say “Check Your Headlights” which objectify women and their bodies.
By the way, men can get breast cancer too – about 2,200 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. They are, for the most part, utterly ignored in the great public battle against breast cancer, since it’s been so heavily promoted as a “women’s issue.”
Yet, as far as I can tell, we are no closer to finding a cure than we were 20 years ago. Research still focuses on the same treatments that are not successfully curing cancer today: chemo, radiation and surgery.
And most awareness efforts continue to focus on early detection as if it is a cure.
But scientists now know that fighting breast cancer means taking on more than one disease. Breast cancer is, in fact, at least ten different diseases, each with its own molecular fingerprint, and each with different weak spots. Which makes developing a vaccine next to impossible.
So it’s time to move from awareness to prevention.
It’s time we educate ourselves and others about cancer-causing environmental toxins and how to avoid them. By being smart consumers, we can make healthier choices. After all, isn’t prevention preferable to “early detection”?
After 30 years of pink we should be asking why we don’t have more to show for the billions spent in the name of breast cancer. And with the growing body of evidence pointing to chemical causes of disease, people are calling for common sense regulation to protect public health.
We don’t need more awareness — we need to see action. It’s time to go beyond the pink and look to prevention.