HDHH: "Think before you pink" - Breast Cancer Awareness

Gunce • Head of Research at Glow. Unwilling infertility expert. 2 kids after 4 years of infertility treatments.

First let me say that - I am by no means an expert on this subject. I am learning and researching as I go.

However, I lost a very dear friend to breast cancer last year and she has some very strong and illuminating opinions on the "Pink" campaigns that spring up during October, which is also Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Essentially she felt that Pink Ribbon products spread empty awareness.

As the "Think before you pink" organization writes:

"“Awareness” has failed to address and end the breast cancer epidemic. Who isn’t aware of breast cancer these days? Pink ribbon trinkets on store shelves that promote “awareness” ultimately change nothing. We have more than enough awareness, but not nearly enough action that will make a significant difference to whether women get breast cancer or survive it. By making the public think “awareness” is the end goal, pink ribbon culture defuses anger about breast cancer and its devastating impact, and distracts us from the meaningful actions that will achieve health justice for us all."

Further - and again, there are many different opinions on this - there has been some debate over just how valuable a self breast exam (BSE) is in detecting breast cancer early and increasing the likelihood of survival. For example, in summer 2008, one study of nearly 400,000 women in Russia and China reported that breast self-examination does not reduce breast cancer mortality and may even cause harm by prompting unnecessary biopsies (removal and examination of suspicious tissue). Because of the ongoing uncertainty raised by this and other studies, the American Cancer Society has chosen to advise women that BSE is an “optional” screening tool. Here is the study if you want to read more about it: Russia Study & China Study

(You may note that at Glow we still tell you to do a BSE - but we are re-examing this task with our medical advisory board.)

Worldwide, breast cancer is the leading type of cancer in women, accounting for 25% of all cases. In 2012 it resulted in 1.68 million cases and 522,000 deaths. It is a terrible, horrible disease that both my grandmother and my aunt and several other family members have suffered through. In fact, I am sure WE all know someone who has or has had breast cancer.

The question is - is coloring the town in Pink Ribbons - the right way or the wrong way to go about fighting this terrible disease? What do you think?  


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