- Prevent Cancer Now - http://www.preventcancernow.ca -

Breast Cancer Month – Awareness or Overkill?

Posted By bradford On October 25, 2010 @ 11:15 am In Uncategorized | No Comments

Letter by Anne Rochon Ford, Co-Director of the National Network on Environments and Women’s Health

ribbon

Dear friends and colleagues,

It’s that time of year again, and as noteworthy as the fall colours in my part of the country is the colour of pink to be found everywhere, marking Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

On October 7th, Parliament Hill was “bathed in pink” in a campaign cosmetic manufacturer Estee Lauder is sponsoring as part of the month’s activities. An unimaginable array of pink-coloured consumer items (some of them laced with carcinogenic compounds) call out to us from all directions. This morning on my way to work I was struck (metaphorically speaking) by a fully pink taxi cab covered in Awareness Month messages. For those of us involved in women’s health who have advocated for a focus on prevention and getting at the cause of breast cancer, as well as for many women who are living with the disease, this can be a most cringe-worthy time.

While more cancers are being caught, rates of death from the disease have decreased only slightly. Early detection is, of course, important but it does not get at preventing the disease in the first place. The need has never been greater to understand the causes of breast cancer that go beyond individual behavioural and lifestyle changes and consider influences that are occupational and environmental in nature.

A recent article in the LA Times [1] nicely summarizes the down side of all this “awareness through pink”. A few excerpts:

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month “was helpful at the time, but it has outlived its usefulness,” says Dr. Susan Love, a breast cancer surgeon at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine [2] and author of “Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book.”

“You see this message that the best prevention is early detection, but that’s not prevention, that’s finding a cancer that’s already there,” Love says.

Screening tests like mammograms and self-exams are most adept at finding the indolent cancers, says Dr. H. Gilbert Welch of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in Lebanon, N.H. As a result, the more we screen, the more women we subject to surgery, chemotherapy and radiation for cancers that never would have harmed them. A paper published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated that for every life saved by a screening mammogram, five to 15 other women needlessly became diagnosed and treated.

The organizers of the awareness campaign say there’s no need to revamp their message.

Samantha King, author of “Pink Ribbons, Inc”, elaborates on her concerns about pink campaigns in an interview on CBC’s “Q” [3] (scroll down to October 6).

There are more and more signs of hope that others are questioning the current approach to Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I feel they deserve our support.

Kudos to Breast Cancer Action Montreal [4] (BCAM) who have mounted a spirited campaign encouraging us to sign a petition directed at Avon Canada pointing out the contradiction between their manufacturing of cosmetics containing chemicals that are contributing to cancer, while purporting to be concerned about women’s health. Please sign the petition [5] or send a letter (samples provided):

You will no doubt be approached – if you haven’t been already – to donate money towards fundraising events for the cure. If you have contributed to this in the past, please consider matching that donation to organizations whose attention is focused on prevention: Breast Cancer Action Montreal [4] or Prevent Cancer Now [6].

Thanks for hearing me out with this little rant!

 
Also in this issue on An Ounce …


Article printed from Prevent Cancer Now: http://www.preventcancernow.ca

URL to article: http://www.preventcancernow.ca/breast-cancer-month-%e2%80%93-awareness-or-overkill/

URLs in this post:

[1] LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-breast-awareness-month-20101004,0,3073414.story

[2] David Geffen School of Medicine: http://dgsom.healthsciences.ucla.edu/dgsom/

[3] CBC’s “Q”: http://www.cbc.ca/q/episodes/

[4] Breast Cancer Action Montreal: http://www.bcam.qc.ca/

[5] sign the petition: http://tinyurl.com/38xovuh

[6] Prevent Cancer Now: http://www.preventcancernow.ca/donate-to-pcn

[7] Welcome to the Fall 2010 Issue of An Ounce: http://www.preventcancernow.ca/welcome-to-the-fall-2010-issue-of-an-ounce

[8] Preventing Cancer: A Call to Action : http://www.preventcancernow.ca/preventing-cancer-a-call-to-action

[9] Canadian Responses to the President’s Cancer Panel: http://www.preventcancernow.ca/canadian-responses-to-the-president’s-cancer-panel

[10] Cancer Prevention is in our Power: http://www.preventcancernow.ca/cancer-prevention-is-in-our-power

[11] Why do some people get cancer while others do not?: http://www.preventcancernow.ca/why-do-some-people-get-cancer-while-others-do-not

[12] The Story of Cosmetics – What’s Canada’s Story?: http://www.preventcancernow.ca/the-story-of-cosmetics-–-what’s-canada’s-story

[13] Incineration Update – Fall 2010: http://www.preventcancernow.ca/incineration-update-–-fall-2010

[14] Why I am a Cancer Prevention Activist : http://www.preventcancernow.ca/why-i-am-a-cancer-prevention-activist

[15] Prevention Shorts: http://www.preventcancernow.ca/an-ounce-shorts

Copyright © 2009 Prevent Cancer Now. All rights reserved.