Breast Cancer Controversies

By Stirling Dubell

October is the national breast cancer awareness month. Yep! That’s right. Get ready parades, pink attire and decorum, and the infamous ‘pink ribbon.’ What many don’t know is that along with breast cancer awareness, comes controversy. Unexpected, right? Well, it’s been going on for ages, and most don’t even know it.

For many breast cancer patients and survivors, they feel that organizations that are to advocate for breast cancer awareness, are really just trying to blanket the reality of the disease. ‘Pink Ribbons, Inc.’ is a documentary of the ‘commercialization of the breast cancer movement and the exploitation of human generosity, hope, and trust’. An example of commercialization happening with this disease is ‘pinkwashing,’ a term used to describe when a company or organization claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, but in the end only ends up donating a tiny percentage of the profits while they gain more positive publicity for themselves. Or, it can also mean a term used to describe when a company or organization claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, but at the same time produces, manufactures and/or sells products that are linked to the disease.

Such as when ‘KFC’ launched “Buckets for the Cure” in partnership with ‘Susan G. Komen’. For every bucket of grilled chicken breasts (Haha, get it? BREASTS!) KFC would donate 50 cents to the Susan G. Komen foundation. Was Komen aware that obesity and weight gain are both risk factors for breast cancer and heart disease? This seems more damaging than helpful.

Also, let us not forget Yoplait’s ‘Put a Lid on It’ campaign. For every Yoplait lid you mail back to the company, Yoplait will donate 10 cents to the Komen foundation… Even if you were to eat three yogurts for the four-month duration of the campaign and send in all of your lids, that would still only be a $36 contribution. Seriously, just send in a check. But what’s even more appalling on the matter, is what’s actually inside the yogurt: a synthetic bovine growth hormone called rBGH, also called rBST. When injected into a cow, the milk has higher levels of the hormone insulin growth factor 1 (IGF-1). Humans have this hormone too, but at a much lower rate. And when it elevates too much (such as when digesting milk or milk products that used rBGH), it can increase the risk of breast cancer. So guess what was inside Yoplait? Yep, that’s right. Yoplait used to use rBGH, whilst advocating for breast cancer. At least they gained thousands upon thousands more supporters for their brand during that time.

Now let’s go back into the disillusion of breast cancer. When you think of breast cancer, what do you see? Pink ribbons, millions flocking to support the cause, a pink bucket filled with fried chicken… Happiness and supportiveness. Do you know the actual face of breast cancer? What it does a person with breasts, physically and mentally? Probably not, as most organizations try to shield you from the truth. One out of every three people diagnosed with breast cancer will struggle with, anxiety and depression and those who have breast cancer have are 37% more likely to commit suicide. But when you see any pink ribbon ad, all you see are women smiling while walking in a parade, heads held high, having a grand ol’ time… Also, all we hear about from the campaigns are the survivors. Not those who have died from the disease, or the number of those diagnosed. Just those who have survived. The ugly reality of breast cancer is that 39,520 women in 2011 alone died from it, and that breast cancer has a higher death rate than any other cancer (other than lung cancer). The Komen Foundation and other breast cancer organizations hide these facts, in attempt to prettify the disease. Many women who are still affected by breast cancer are angered that they are forgotten in the campaign, and feel that Komen is just being plain dishonest in what they promote.

Here are some statistics to top it all off. The Susan G. Komen makes about $263,673,268 per year. That’s in the millions! Except… Only 20% of that is going to breast cancer research. And only 5% to treatment. And only 13% to health screening. Want to know where Komen’s strong point is? Public health education at 39%!

Let’s loop back to how Komen spends their 20% on research. 53% of that 20% goes to research finding a cure, which only means about 11% of their total revenue. So when Komen says: “Donate a dollar for the cure!” Only about a dime of that will go towards research actually designed to cure breast cancer. Helpful, right?

Before you decide to buy that new firearm branded with the Susan G. Komen ribbon (which they stole, by the way) with its matching pink ribbon shotgun shells, Think Before You Pink. Is this contribution going to actually help cure breast cancer? Or is it really just a mask for what’s truly going on? Go to for more information and for more trustful organizations that you can donate to besides Susan G. Komen!


The Movie: Pink Ribbons, Inc. (

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