Support Breast Cancer Research With Pink Products

Breast cancer mainly affects women. It is also one of the leading causes of female mortality. It forms in the tissues of the breast, either in the ducts. The pink ribbon is the internationally recognized symbol for breast cancer awareness. One of the most important things that a survivor of this disease can receive is support. Support can be from family members, friends or from other survivors. Support groups usually provide empathy, empowerment and compassion for survivors.

Companies support breast cancer awareness and research by putting pink ribbons or coloring their merchandise pink. They are then supposed to give a certain percentage of what they make in sales to support this noble cause. Companies also have days when employees dress in pink clothes or accessories in support of this cause. In addition, they make contributions which are donated to organizations that support the cause. Concerns are however arising that companies are now using the pink ribbon as a marketing gimmick. They have been accused of using the ribbons to attract sales from sympathizers of breast cancer and then failing to make donations to the relevant organizations. However, with accountability and transparency, this can become a thing of the past.

Another problem associated with the pink ribbon campaign is that, a lot of money is being spent on the campaigns themselves than is being raised for research or treatment. This means that, the campaign defeats the purpose for which it was intended. In addition, some of the companies that are being used to promote these campaigns are also raising eyebrows. For example, the cosmetic companies which use cancer causing substances in making some of their products. It appears that these companies are using these campaigns as a cover up to their business dealings.

Concerns are also being raised that the abuse of the pink ribbon campaign will result in survivors not getting the support they deserve. This is because, as companies continue profiting from the disease, little ends up being done in terms of treatment and research. Issues such as the rising cost of treatment and the plight of survivors are left unattended. In addition, people seem to have forgotten what the campaign is all about and are more focused on the things that they are able to buy. Sadly, it is now becoming apparent that the breast cancer campaign could fade into obscurity like the HIV/AIDS campaigns. These were very popular in the nineties after the AIDS pandemic rocked the world.

Does the Pink of Breast Cancer Awareness Month Make Women With Cancer Feel Worse?

October is the traditional month for Breast Cancer Awareness. You’ll see pink ribbons, pink t-shirts, pink clothing of all types worn by both women and men.

In fact, this year of 2010, the professional football teams of the National Football League have included pink in their football uniforms. Burly lineman and linebackers put pink cleats on their football shoes; quarterbacks and receivers wear pink wristbands and carry pink towels as part of their gear.

Why pink? How did the pink ribbon movement start? And most importantly, does it really help women who already have breast cancer? Or make them feel worse?

How Pink Got Into the Cancer Business
Ribbons have been used to express solidarity on the part of the wearer with the identified cause since the early to late 20th Century. Yellow ribbons are used for troops at war. Red ribbons for those with AIDS. Pink ribbons (and the color pink) express support for those who are diagnosed with Breast Cancer.

In the fall of 1991, Alexandra Penney, editor-in-chief of Self, a woman health magazine and Evelyn Lauder, of the cosmetic company Estée Lauder, got the idea to create a ribbon. The cosmetics giant distributed those ribbons stores in New York City.

Charlotte Hayley, who battled the disease, produced peach colored ribbons. She sold the ribbons to support cancer prevention. After discussing opportunities with Lauder, Hayley and their lawyers, they a “new” color, pink, was chosen, which became an international symbol for awareness.

Does Pink Really Help Women Who Have Breast Cancer?
There are loud voices of criticism about “Pink Month” and its long term effects for battling breast cancer.

Critics say that promoting pink ribbons as a symbol has not been credited with saving any lives. Others believe that the pink ribbon will fade from popular use and become only a fad. October has become a month when “pink” sales explode. Companies that sell pink merchandise and give a token donation to related charities.

Gayle Sulik, a medical sociologist wrote Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health. She found that while “pink ribbon culture” has brought the illness much attention in the United States, did not improve women’s health. Based on eight years of research, analysis and hundreds of interviews with women who had the disease, Ms. Sulik found that cancer rates rise, the cancer industry thrives, corporations profit from the disease, and those with this cancer are stigmatized by the pink ribbon.

How Does Seeing Pink Make Women with Cancer Feel about Themselves?
How does any woman feel when she has a serious illness and everything around her says, “Be Aware of Breast Cancer.” In October, 2009 after Cheryl had been diagnosed with DCIS, a Stage 0 level. That October was a difficult month. Pink was everywhere and she was very aware of cancer. She had been diagnosed with it.

Yes, early detection was very important because we had less severe symptoms to deal with. Yet, the awareness month itself did little to support her. Whenever Cheryl went shopping, pink was everywhere. She felt horrible, like she couldn’t get a break to live a normal life. Reminders were everywhere, that she was not normal – she had this cancer. She just wanted to hide.

Writing notes of support, using affirming words and spending more time together did a lot more for her spirits than pink ribbons and t-shirts did. Using the Treasuring mindset and approach helped Cheryl feel loved, appreciated and valued on the inside.

So, my questions to you, dear reader, are: What does October Breast Cancer Awareness Month mean to you? How do you treasure women with with illness? What do you write or say to them? And if you have breast cancer yourself, what would you want the important people in your life to write or say to you?

Breast Cancer Research

The decline in mortality rates among breast cancer patients can be credited to breast cancer research. While advocates would argue that it is early detection and breast cancer awareness that have saved more lives, it cannot be denied also that research also made a contribution in this undertaking. With the millions of dollars spent on research, it is only logical for research to generate more discoveries and developments.

Breast cancer research is usually done by agencies such as the National Cancer Institute and by breast cancer associations. The National Cancer Institute has organized a Progress Review Group, composed of members from different fields such as scientific, medical, industry and advocacy communities, that convene to discuss research issues. They release recommendations for a research agenda, which contain research goals in different fields such as biology, genetics, prevention, treatment, and others.

Breast cancer associations also fund their own research and submit whatever recommendations that they may come up with. What they usually conduct are clinical trials, where effects of new treatments are studied among those diagnosed with breast cancer. Organizations also lobby the passage of laws both at the state and national level for the allocation of more funds for research.

One of the more important aspects of breast cancer research is identifying risk factors. By identifying risk factors and controlling those which are modifiable, we are able to reduce the risk of breast cancer incidence. Treatments are also being developed to control, if not eliminate, the “uncontrollable” risk factors. Development of new technology for better breast imaging is also being done. With better equipment, tumors can be more easily detected, even for those women who have high breast density.

Among the developments in breast cancer research is the discovery of a new gene that can increase breast cancer risk. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the two genes that can be linked to breast cancer and these are genes that we inherit from our parents. That is why if one parent has had cancer, the risk of acquiring this defective gene is high, making the risk of breast cancer also high. However, even if one inherits a bad gene, one gene is sufficient to do its task, which is to control cell growth. It is therefore important to take care of this gene. If both genes are damaged, cell growth cannot be controlled anymore. This being so, the abnormal, uncontrollable cell growth results in cancer cells. Recent studies now show that aside from these two genes, there is another gene called HMMR that increases breast cancer risk. A mutation of this gene increases the risk of breast cancer. Studies show that women with a mutation in this gene have a risk which is 2.7 times higher than those without it. It was also seen that this gene interacts with BRCA1 and their interaction results in gene alteration, making either gene unstable and paving the way for breast cancer to develop.

Research and clinical studies have shown that there are certain workplaces where breast cancer risk factors may be increased. These are working in a textile industry and in hospital departments where radiation may be exposed. While these increase the risk, there are also factors that reduce the risk. These include working in a managerial position and eating a high-fiber, low salt diet.

Another research was made to determine the connection between fat consumption and breast cancer risk and researchers found that there was no association between fat consumption, whether monounsaturated, polyunsaturated or saturated, and the overall risk for breast cancer.

Researchers are still studying the effects of birth control pills to breast cancer risk. While recent studies showed a slight link, the results are not conclusive yet.

Breast cancer research is an important aspect in the fight against breast cancer. Without it, no new treatments are made available, no new risk factors are discovered. That is why it is necessary to fund research programs of the government and of other organizations dedicated to public service. Participate in fund-raising activities or make donations by supporting causes or purchasing merchandise where a fraction of the sales is given to fund research. These donations, minimal as they may be, will go a long way to help us fight breast cancer.