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November 3, 2011

Keep Raising A Stink In November With Breast Cancer Action

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is officially over now, which means that the pinkwashing is starting to die down, and we won't be seeing as many products plastered with pink ribbons on our store shelves.

But that doesn't mean the opportunity to take action is over. I actually think this is a good time to contact companies or organizations and give them feedback on their Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaigns. Something like this (just pick and choose whatever applies):
Dear Company/Organization,

I didn't buy your pink product/participate in your campaign this October because you didn't clearly explain where the money was going or what it would be used for/you were only donating two cents per item/your contribution is capped so I have no way of knowing if my purchase is actually adding to the donation/you were giving the money to an organization that spends more on cocktail parties and executive salaries than real activism/you weren't actually making a donation or doing anything but slapping a pink ribbon on your product to "raise awareness"/the Attorney General told me not to/your pink product contains ingredients that may actually cause cancer. Please do better next year.

This year, Breast Cancer Action's anti-pinkwashing campaign is called Raise A Stink, and the target is Susan G. Komen for the Cure's new perfume:
Pinkwashing has reached a new low this year with “Promise Me,” a perfume commissioned by the giant of the breast cancer movement, Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Promise Me contains chemicals not listed in the ingredients that: (a) are regulated as toxic and hazardous, (b) have not been adequately evaluated for human safety, and (c) have demonstrated negative health effects.

Two chemicals of primary concern in Promise Me include Galaxolide and Toluene:

* Galaxolide is a synthetic musk that works as a hormone disruptor and has been detected in blood, breast milk, and even newborns.
* Toluene is a potent neurotoxicant linked to a variety of demonstrated negative health effects and is widely known as one of the toxic trio. Toluene is banned by the International Fragrance Association (IFRA).
Breast Cancer Action has also done the math and determined that the manufacturer of the perfume is donating only $7.97 per $59 bottle to Komen, and they estimate that only about $1.50 per bottle will actually go towards research. They are asking people to join them in sending a message to Komen asking them to recall the perfume and stop engaging in pinkwashing.

Did you see any particularly ridiculous examples of pinkwashing this October? Let us know in the comments and, more importantly, let the companies know how you feel about it.


Anonymous said...

I sent a letter to Komen and here is part of the answer I received:

"Our first concern is always the safety and well-being of women and men facing this disease. To that end, our partners’ products are subject to review by our Medical and Scientific Affairs team, which evaluated the perfume’s ingredients, the latest research, and guidelines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

According to our research, the ingredients found in Promise Me are within fragrance and cosmetic industry standards, and at these levels have not been shown to elevate breast cancer risk in people. At Susan G. Komen for the Cure, we support evidence-based medicine, that is, decisions based on current facts and knowledge. In addition, we make this information available to our constituents, respecting that they are intelligent consumers who make informed decisions about the use of products based on evidence. As new research and new findings are published, we will certainly take them into account.

Nevertheless, at Komen’s request and to be sensitive to these concerns, the manufacturer agreed to reformulate the perfume. The last batch of the perfume was manufactured in May of this year; we expect manufacturing and sale of the reformulated product to begin in early 2012. We do not intend to ask the manufacturer to recall or remove unsold products.

Komen has always believed that ending cancer requires research about how it begins and how it might be prevented, which is why Komen has invested more than $65 million to prevention research and an additional $7 million supporting 18 projects investigating environmental estrogens, pesticides, steroid hormones, and nitrites/nitrates and their relation to breast cancer."

Alan Robinson said...

Those of us that have suffered with less "popular" cancers resent the pinkwashing. When I saw dog and cat food with Pink ribbons that was the ultimate insult to those that suffer with other diseases.

Breast cancer is easy for corporations for support because almost half of all consumers have a chance of getting it during their lifespan. A company can look good with nearly no effort at all.

Unfortunately, other cancers including head and neck and digestive cancers are barely mentioned even though survival rates are poor and survivors have such life changing impacts that suicide rates are ten times the rate of all other cancer survivors.

It is time to focus on cancer in general and not just the cancer that gets the most corporate promotional impact for the buck