Should Breast Cancer Awareness Turn to Prevention?


A page from 'State of the Evidence' shows the difficulty of linking risks to causes for breast cancer. Courtesy Breast Cancer Fund.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and you're likely to see pink ribbons along with fall colors, as groups raise money for breast cancer research and emphasize the importance of early detection. It's a good cause. Does it go far enough? The Breast Cancer Fund, a San Francisco nonprofit, says no. It wants to see October renamed as Breast Cancer Prevention Month, and is stressing the links between cancer and the environment. The Breast Cancer Fund wants to transform "the bland and overly pink Breast Cancer Awareness Month into Breast Cancer Prevention Month by highlighting the environmental links to the disease and empowering people to act to reduce their risk (and the risk for all women)."

The group has released a new, sixth-edition report called "State of the Evidence," which outlines research that links increased risk for breast cancer to synthetic hormones in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and meat; pesticides in food, solvents in household cleaning products, BPA in food containers, flame retardants in furniture, and radiation from medical treatments.

The Breast Cancer Fund is urging women and men to ask President Obama to develop national policies focused on preventing the disease which affects one in eight women.

That includes directing the Food and Drug Administration to eliminate BPA from food and beverage containers, and adopting stricter regulations on chemicals, as called for in a May report from the President's Cancer Panel. That panel found that chemicals and pollutants cause a much larger percentage of cancers than previously believed.

It seems it's about time there was a focus on breast cancer prevention rather than just breast cancer awareness. On the other hand, awareness breeds prevention, by giving women tips on how to reduce their risk and detect cancers early on. There are environmental links to many diseases that affect humans, but we're often in the mode of awareness rather than finger-pointing, identifying causes and trying to tackle those issues. It is good to point fingers? Should more health campaigns turn from awareness to prevention?

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Tags: Cancer | Chemicals | Corporate Responsibility

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