This blog chronicles my life as I try to balance healthy lifestyle habits with my husband's penchant for pizza rolls and my daughter's desire to watch iCarly 8 hours a day. It contains a mostly humorous, kind, and somewhat spiritual look at everyday life and the people who live it.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
My Pink Ribbon Rant
In my opinion, breast cancer research is the biggest fraud perpetrated on the American woman in this century.
Putting a little pink ribbon on a product is a bit marketing genius. Someone figured out that women will buy, buy, buy...thinking they are doing something good for breast cancer research. I am not here to dispute how the funds are used. I have no idea if the money goes to breast cancer research or not, it really makes no difference to me because all of the energies are being spent on curing, not preventing. Some of the very products that bear the pink ribbon are carcinogenic. This has to stop. The very products that can lead to breast cancer are being consumed by women who buy them to help fight breast cancer. Anyone else think this is crazy???
Most of the "pink ribbon" clothing being sold is not made of organic cotton. Some of it is even dry clean only. Dry cleaners use formaldehyde to clean the clothes. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen. Another chemical, perchloroethylene, or PERC, is used by three out of four dry cleaners nationwide (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/02/23/earlyshow/contributors/tracysmith/main2507444.shtml) PERC is stated by the EPA to be a possible to probable cause of cancer. Cotton growers use numerous pesticides to ensure the viability of the cotton crop. Pesticides are carcinogens. In fact five of the top nine pesticides used on cotton in the U.S. (cyanide, dicofol, naled, propargite, and trifluralin) are KNOWN cancer-causing chemicals. All nine are classified by the U.S. EPA as Category I and II— the most dangerous chemicals. (http://www.ecochoices.com/1/cotton_statistics.html)
Cosmetic companies have long been guilty of hidden carcinogens in their products. Many foundations and pressed powders contain aluminum and talc (which contains an ingredient similar to asbestos and is linked to ovarian cancer), numerous dyes and preservatives that all end up in your bloodstream, via the skin, are present as well. Chemicals such as diaminoanisole and FD&C Red 33 are found in hair dyes, and scientists have directly classified both of these as carcinogens. This evidence is also supported by separate studies that link hair dyes to such rare cancers as: non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and multiple myeloma. Another study claims that at least 20% of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma found in women is caused by use of hair dyes. Chemicals found in hair sprays, lipsticks, and perfumes are all linked to cancer. (For a complete listing, click on http://www.breastcancerfund.org/site/pp.asp?c=kwKXLdPaE&b=3005277).
Parabens and aluminum-based products (both compounds that are found in antiperspirants) raise estrogen levels. Elevated estrogen levels may lead to breast cancer. (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/AP-Deo)
And the worst part is that these companies know all this information. Sure, the can play dumb like the tobacco companies "oh, does smoking cause lung cancer? We didn't know..." but women are gambling their health, not to mention their money, on these products. The FDA does not regulate hair sprays, perfumes, cosmetics, shampoos, conditioners, or hair dyes. These products do not have to undergo any rigorous testing or comply to any safety standards. Basically, anything can be in your body lotion that you are rubbing into your largest organ, your skin, and sending right into your bloodstream. Why do you think nicotine and birth control patches are so effective?
And how about the food? When I walked into the grocery store and saw a huge display of M&Ms bearing the pink ribbon packaging, I was furious. Ignoring the fact that obesity puts a woman at a much higher risk for breast cancer (http://www.webmd.com/breast-cancer/news/20061127/breast-cancer-risk-age-and-obesity), what about the ingredients in the M&Ms themselves? M&Ms are high in sugar. Sugar feeds cancer. (http://www.mnwelldir.org/docs/nutrition/sugar.htm), (http://www.healingcancernaturally.com/sugar-and-cancer.html) M&Ms also contain artificial colors, are high in fat, and have little to no nutritional value. (http://caloriecount.about.com/calories-mm-mars-candies-mms-plain-i19141).
Yet these candies bear a pink ribbon. Even if 100% of the sales were given to breast cancer research, shouldn't these products have some responsibility for not promoting cancer?
Right now companies are content with being reactive, providing most of their support to research cures, not support for prevention. While this is beneficial to the pharmaceutical companies that sell these treatments and cures, this is not beneficial to humankind. This is not an approach that we can support. We must demand that companies remove the carcinogens from their products. We must demand that companies support products that are cancer preventatives. Why isn't there a pink ribbon on broccoli or other cruciferous vegetables that are so good for our bodies? Where's the pink ribbon on apples? How about a pink ribbon advertising for walking and bike trails?
A diagnosis of cancer is terrifying. Let's envision and support a world where that diagnosis is never made instead of putting all our energies into trying to cure a disease.