I Hate Pink - The Goods on Breast Cancer Awareness Month

by Judy Brady

It is estimated that over 22,000 women and men in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and nearly ten times as many in the United States.
Almost a quarter of these people will die.

Ever since it dawned on me that having been swaddled in a pink blanket set me on a course of considerably more limited choices than those available to the baby wrapped in a blue blanket, I’ve been wary of anything that comes in pink. But in October it’s impossible to avoid pink. Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) is upon us and millions of little pink ribbons on millions of lapels exhort us to be “aware” of breast cancer.

Awareness aside, the real truth about cancer is out. The vast majority of breast cancers (and other cancers, as well as numerous other human diseases) are linked to the proliferation of chemical and nuclear contaminants in our environment.

The response from polluting industries to this growing body of evidence has been the creation of BCAM, invented to divert public attention from their dirty practices.
The unremitting message every October is that the answer to the breast cancer epidemic lies in getting a mammogram and raising more money for “cancer research.”  Nary a word is ever said about why we are getting sick and dying in increasing numbers.
The inspiration for BCAM came from Zeneca, a pharmaceutical/chemical/ biotechnology company, when it was still a subsidiary of the British company, Imperial Chemical Industries.
Since its inception, BCAM in the United States has been controlled by the now independent and renamed AstraZeneca (the pharmaceutical arm of Zeneca), which has become a permanent partner in the cancer establishment. AstraZeneca boasts that it has spent “millions of dollars” on BCAM publicity, in return for which they retain the right to okay or veto every poster, pamphlet, or advertisement issued under the aegis of BCAM.
Zeneca is the third largest producer of pesticides in North America, with sales valued in the billions of dollars annually. AstraZeneca is the leading producer of tamoxifen, the most widely prescribed drug for breast cancer. A few years back Zeneca completed a takeover of Salick Health Care centres which treat cancer patients across the US. So AstraZeneca, the wizard behind BCAM, is first contributing to the increase in breast cancer, then profiting from its treatment with cancer drugs, and finally wrapping it all up by controlling cancer care centres.
Other companies have been quick to jump on the gravy train. A few years ago, the Wall Street Journal ran a story with the headline, Linking Products to Breast-Cancer Fight Helps Firms Bond with Their Customers. According to the article: “Companies are finding out that the pink ribbon, symbol of breast-cancer awareness patterned after the red AIDS ribbon, can help them connect with female customers.”
Lining up behind the big money are some breast cancer organizations like the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which hosts the annual “Race for the Cure” in major US cities every October. [In January 2012 the Komen Foundation entered into a marketing agreement with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF). – Ed]
For the past several years, the Komen Foundation has raised a few extra millions from a partnership with BMW in a nationwide program called “The Ultimate Drive.”  Their silence regarding the relationship between cancer and benzo(a)pyrene, one of the chemicals belched from the exhaust pipe of every car, is not surprising.
The Foundation has also received financial support from organizations like the Chlorine Chemistry Council (trade association of the chlorine chemical industry). It’s also not surprising that their literature fails to mention the link between cancer and exposure to dioxin, an ubiquitous chemical largely produced as a byproduct from the incineration of any material containing chlorine.
Cancer now gobbles up a full 10% of the total annual health care budget in the US. It will soon overtake heart disease and be the leading cause of death in this country. In the meantime, our slim environmental regulations are being systematically dismantled by an industry-friendly, pro-free-trade government, while we are being drowned in a sea of little pink ribbons.
I hate pink.


Judy Brady is one of the breast cancer activists interviewed in the NFB’s documentary Pink Ribbons, Inc. This acclaimed exposé of “pink washing” is now available for rental or download from the NFB website: www.nfb.ca/film/pink_ribbons_inc.

Watershed Sentinel Original Content

5 Issues/yr — $25 print; $15 digital