Breast Cancer Awareness: For Survivors or For Profit? 

The month that started out as a noble effort to raise awareness for breast cancer, spiraled into a massive marketing ploy for many conglomerates to “show support,” while pushing their latest pink-themed product. 

Even the  leading organization, Susan G. Komen Foundation, was found guilty of “pinkwashing” toxic products it had brought to market.  

What is “Pinkwashing”?

Pinkwashing is a term used to describe large companies that take the infamous pink ribbon and slap it on their products as a deceiving way of supporting Breast Cancer Awareness, with little indication as to how they are supporting the cause.

Brands can carry the label, without even attributing percentages of sales to breast cancer awareness. 

The irony?

These same brands that are pinkwashing products are actually linked to cancer which furthers the notion that they aren’t in it for cancer prevention, but rather the bottom line.

Products that Profit Off of Suffering

Companies across all industries from skincare, beautycare, food, snacks, beverages to cleaning products are responsible for this same falsified message of “support.” 

Activists have pointed out that tracking donations to breast cancer research from these corporations can be nearly impossible to do. Some of these companies are responsible for giving set donations, as opposed to a profit percentage (the set donation being miniscule compared to pink product profit). 

The Susan G. Komen Perfume Scandal

In 2011, Susan G. Komen for the Cure collaborated with TPR Holdings to commission a perfume called Promise Me, that was later found to contain chemicals (specifically Galaxolide and Toluene) that were deemed hazardous, carcinogenic, and associated with negative health effects.

To summarize, in many cases it is unclear:

  • How much money gets donated from a company
  • If the company actually donates a pink profit %
  • Where the donations are actually allocated
  • If that product that was just purchased is contributing to breast cancer risk

The question we begin to raise is… Do we really want to prevent breast cancer or is the profit just too good to swipe off the table?

How Much Revenue Does the Breast Cancer Industry Turn? 

Leading the charts by a sizable margin is the Susan G. Komen Foundation. In fact, their 2016 annual report showcased a total of $257,895,950 in donations from the public.

If we are taking a look at the global market size for breast cancer therapeutics, it will sit at USD 55.27 billion by 2027.

Surely that’s enough money to make a dent in the research findings, right? 

The Breast Cancer Statistics Show a Growing Battle

With more money than ever being raised for research, breakthroughs have seemed lackluster and the breast cancer rates are up 242% between 1970 and 2014

An estimated 287,850 new cases of malignant breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S, this year alone. 

Is Breast Cancer Possible to Prevent?

The truth of the matter is, even with extensive research and funding for breast cancer, there is nothing that compares to the preventative actions that we can take right now. 

While nothing is ever guaranteed, research shows that environment and lifestyle pull the trigger for the majority of cancer cases.

According to the NIH, cancer is a more preventable disease than initially assessed and an estimated 90–95% of cases are the results of lifestyle and environmental factors. Only 5-10% of cases are actually linked to genetic markers.

What you eat and how you live truly make a great impact on your associated risk! 

Abi Fernandini

Abi Fernandini is a a clinical exercise physiologist and holds a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. She also holds a functional nutrition certification and has relevant working experience in functional nutrition for the past 6 years.