The Facebook campaign that asks women to update their status with lame innuendos about where they keep their purses is just another example of the world’s current unhealthy (!) obsession with breast cancer. Does this (and all the pink ribbon claptrap) get us any closer to preventing or curing the disease? It could actually be making people more complacent and less inclined to take other more meaningful action. Perhaps it’s even worse than that. It could be that the focus on breast cancer is diverting attention (and money) away from other, more deserving causes.
In an ideal world, funds would be allocated for research according to the relative seriousness of diseases. But breast cancer gets 25% of the funds available for research into site-specific cancers – nearly double the amount for both colon and lung cancer which are clearly more deadly. Heart disease and strokes kill more women than breast cancer.
The other unpleasant aspect of all this is the emotional hijacking that goes on. The main beneficiaries of pink products are corporations that are cynically commercialising disease. Consumers may believe that buying a pink crocodile make-up case will benefit medical science, but, typically, a company like Estee Lauder makes a fixed donation to breast cancer research and each sale contributes absolutely nothing at all to the cause. You may argue that at least such products “support awareness”, but for heaven’s sake, how much awareness does there need to be?
Some of the companies jumping on the pink bandwagon are particularly hyprocritical. The latest research links breast cancer to high-fat diets and over-consumption of alcohol. Earlier this year, KFC promised to donate 50 cents for every bucket of fried chicken sold. SUPPORT HER VODKA has offered a $5 donation for every 750ml bottle purchased.
Miley Cyrus said “Pink isn’t just a color, it’s an attitude.” Well, it’s time for a change of attitude.