Curious about who I am? Posts about health and natural birth Resources and posts regarding vaccines and informed consent Posts about Parenting and Relationships Spirituality and Life Lessons Email me Home


Breast Cancer Awareness Month is upon us.

Some of us will 'celebrate' by participating in runs, walks, fundraisers and collecting as many pink Yoplait foil lids as possible during the month of October…


Lost Value in Awareness

We can’t deny that awareness of breast cancer has value. There is less shame associated with the disease and many celebrities publicly disclose the challenges they face when dealing with breast cancer in hopes to support others. Support groups are easier to find and there is a better acceptance in the use of second opinions and less invasive surgical procedures. [1]

As much as this awareness has been useful and was much needed, that was two decades ago. We are long overdue to take the next step.

Breast cancer awareness month and their pink ribbon campaigning is falling short.

We must continue to progress.

Race For the ‘Cure’

Although millons of dollars have been raised over the last few decades, we aren’t closer to any type of “cure”. 

In fact, the foundation of breast cancer treatment has not changed – when the tumor is localized it is followed by surgery, then by chemotherapy (when indicated), radiotherapy, followed by hormonal therapy (tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor)…followed by management of side effects and reoccurence montoring. 

This is what has been done for the last 40 years.

---I want to pause here and give my thanks to all of those who have put the time and energy into helping those who have been touched by cancer. It is not my intention to undermine those efforts; instead my objective in this post is to further encourage prevention and healing.---

Recoiling of Early Detection

This has done little to reduce the mortality in breast cancer. In fact, from 1970-1990, death rates increased.[2]

During the 1990’s mortality began to decline slightly. Although the data on changes in incidence and mortality suggest treatment, not early detection, plays a more important role in explaining the recent decline in mortality.[2]

US Breast Cancer Incidence and Mortality (per 100,000 population)
Source: Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2001-2002 - American Cancer Society –

This is important to note because the American Cancer Society proclaims that there are no practical ways to prevent breast cancer – only early detection.[3]

With this comes the strong push towards mammography, which instead, has resulted in a huge population of women with early stage breast cancer but without a corresponding decline in the number of women with advanced cancer. The unchanged status of metastatic disease is unsettling, yet is continuing to be overlooked.[2]

Ironically, CT scans are now being touted as the new plain-free mammograms, yet medical radiation (particularly with CT scans) is “the foremost identifiable cause of breast cancer”.[4][5]

What the frig? Am I the only one that sees a problem with this?

We need changes, not more pink commerical campaigns from KFC. Foundations such as Susan G Komen and the National Cancer Institue have been funding the same ineffective research for over two decades.

We need access to care beyond mammograms. Mammograms results in overdiagnosis of precancerous/cancerous tumors that would never risk a women’s life. Yes, the main forms of mammography-detected cancer is called Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) which is intriniscally benign – better left untreated with convential “therapies” like radiation and/or chemotherapy.[6]

In addition to the already troubling short-comings of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we have the Pink Ribbon campaign which has brought us the motto of “Early Detection is You Best Protection”.

The Pink Ribbon

The annual ritual of your favorite commercial products and favorite celebrities bearing pink has exploded.

Rewind to 1985, 68-year-old Charlotte Haley, the granddaughter, sister, and mother of women who had battled breast cancer handmade peach-colored loops in her dining room. Each set of five came with a card saying: “The National Cancer Institute annual budget is $1.8 billion, only 5 percent goes for cancer prevention. Help us wake up our legislators and America by wearing this ribbon.”…[7]

In 1992, Self Magazine, with cosmetics company Estee Lauder, approached Haley to use her ribbons in a breast cancer awareness campaign.[7]

Charlotte refused-she did not wish to have the ribbon used in a commercial manner.[7]

The companies instead changed the peach colored ribbon to pink and viola!

Pinkwashing (peenk+woshing)
1. a term used to describe the activities of companies and groups that position themselves as leaders in the struggle to eradicate breast cancer while engaging in practices that may be contributing to rising rates of the disease.

Want a good example?

Eli Lilly manufactures pharmaceuticals to ‘prevent’ and treat breast cancer. Yet, they are now the sole manufacture of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) used to increase the mammary gland size and production in female cows – rBGH has been concluded to increase breast cancer risk. [8][9][10]

Interesting to find that Yoplait yogurt, with those fancy pink lids, incorporate milk from cows treated with rBGH. Yuck.

Why are we encouraged to support companies that aren’t taking the necessary steps on making their product “breast cancer friendly”?

Active Solutions

There is a value to awareness, but awareness of what, and to what end?

The efforts on early detection and surgical/chemical treatments needs to be refocused on education that can help women prevent the onset of breast cancers through healthy diet, lifestyle choices and avoidance of carcinogens.

We don’t need a pink ribbon to demand that our elected officials take real action by initiating and supporting independent research and strong regulation.

You can do something right now by contacting your local government officials – check out this link to endorse the 2012 Breast Cancer Action Mandate for Government Action.

Breast cancer requires more than awareness – more than pink ribbons – more than screening. 

According to the National Cancer Institute “breast cancer is simply not a preventable disease”.

However, only a small fraction of the funds is spent on research, and most of that funding is spent on research to improve diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.

Little money or attention is devoted to identifying the non-genetic causes of breast cancer or taking steps to prevent breast cancer from occurring. The mainstream breast cancer culture is focused on a cure for existing breast cancer cases, rather than on preventing future cases.[3]

We must refocus and demand active solutions.

What will you do this month to help your daughters live in a nation that is placing resources in preventing breast cancer?

If you are interested in more – check out my other post on The Ineffective War on Breast Cancer


[1]Sulik, Gayle (2010). Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women's Health. New York: Oxford University Press

[2] Musa Mayer, M.S.,M.F.A. Treatment and Outcomes for High-risk and Metastatic Breast Cancer in California: An Inquiry into Disparities and Research Needs (Changes in Breast Cancer Mortality Rates). California Breast Cancer Research Program. 2003

[3] Ave, Melanie. "Tampabay: All May Not Be in the Pink". St. Petersburg Times Oct 2006

[4] Miller, Kelli. CT Scans: Painless Mammogram Alternative. Breast Cancer Health Center. July 2008

[5]LaForge, John. The Leading Cause of Breast Cancer? The New York Times, Dec. 8, 2011, p. A3

[6]Aschwanden, Christie. "The Trouble with Mammograms". The Los Angeles Times. August 2009
[7]Fernandez, Sandy. History of the Pink Ribbon. Think Before You Pink.1998

[8]FDA Approval for Raloxifene Hydrochloride. National Cancer Institute. Jan 2011

[10 New study warns of breast and colon cancer risks from rBGH milk. Cancer Prevention Coalition. Jan 1996 ]

[11] Barbara Brenner executive director of Breast Cancer Action (BCA)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be respectful. If you are about to say something that you would not let your child hear, then please refrain from saying it.