October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and the public conversation has been noticeably different this year. I've heard much more talk about chemicals that increase cancer risk — and what can and should be done to prevent breast cancer — than talk about raising awareness. It's about time.
I've also seen a new eyes-wide-open awareness of how absurd it is for companies that produce or sell cancer-causing products to wrap themselves in pink for the month. (I think it was the pink fracking drill bit "for the cure" that finally broke through the noise.) Think Before You Pink has been a core campaign message of our friends at Breast Cancer Action for many years, and it's a message we stand firmly behind. It's high time to move beyond pinkwashing.
The fact is, everyone knows breast cancer is a serious problem. There are few among us who don't have friends and/or family that have been affected. I know I do — and honestly, it makes me furious. Because we've understood for many years now that one of the drivers of the breast cancer epidemic is exposure to carcinogenic chemicals, including several common pesticides.
From awareness to prevention
Here's what I wrote in my Pink ribbons for prevention blog back in 2011:
Getting pesticides off our farms and out of our diets is one path toward prevention. Scientists link exposure to many pesticides — especially in adolescence while mammary glands are developing — to increased risk of breast cancer later in life.
According to the President's Cancer Panel, "girls exposed to DDT before they reach puberty are five times more likely to develop breast cancer in middle age."
At PAN, we wholeheartedly support the standing call from our friends at the Breast Cancer Fund to officially make October Breast Cancer Prevention month.
Just imagine if some fraction of the profits from all the pink chotchkies sold in October were earmarked for prevention. Not only would it would shine a bright spotlight on the absurdity of pinkwashing, it would advance the important work of creating a breast cancer-free economy.
Let's do that.
Photo: iStock Photo