The C Word

Contrast the story below with the accompanying photo:

A quote from the “carepages” site of an old friend who’s been battling cancer for years: “My wife has been oh so diligent in helping me stay on my diet free of refined sugar, bleached flour, corn fed beef and pork and all other foods that create the ‘soil’ that grows cancer. To fight the cancer, she prepared regular doses of kale smoothies, green tea and Korean ginseng along with fantastic mostly vegetarian dishes loaded with cancer fighting compounds (to find out more, read the book AntiCancer: A New Way of Life.) I also did yoga and pilates faithfully 6 days a week for over two months now sprinkling in runs, bike rides and weight lifting as time permitted…”

The “soil” that grows cancer. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it put better. (As seen in the pretty pink cardboard flowerpots above and to the right.)

It’s near the end of October, that month where pink ribbons are everywhere–racing for the cure, buying for the cure, walking for the cure, donating for the cure, promises to work for this elusive “cure” are all over the place.  Unfortunately, guess what’s also all over the place? People and companies plopping that pink ribbon on things just to get people to think They Care, and thus shop from them. Companies selling products with carcinogenic chemicals in them are “donating a portion of profits to the cure” and thus hoping to get a pass.

It’s called Pinkwashing. (Sort of like “greenwashing,” where a company puts pictures of green fields and fuzzy bunnies on the front of something called “eco-green-super-non-toxic-natural cleaner” and it’s exactly like their other products only it has 1% aloe vera gel or two micrograms of lavender essential oil or something added…)

Now please, don’t get me wrong–YES, we need to fight for a cure for cancer, YES we need to find a way to combat this horrible disease, to give hope to those who already have it or will get it in the coming months and years. But…what about “Walk for Prevention!” or “2% of this company’s profits will go toward community education helping women avoid and eliminate breast cancer risk factors” or things of that nature? Where are those pink programs?

They are around.  They are sometimes harder to find, because they are spending what funding they have to do the research and education and don’t have giant marketing departments like the Big Pharma or cosmetic companies.  but what we don’t know really can hurt us. Check out this article from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics–a huge number of the products we use all the time have hormone-disrupting chemicals, things that can mimic estrogen, metals that stay in our bodies and accumulate over time…and worse many of them are not even required to be named on product ingredients lists.

Something else that article points out: Guess who the three cosmetics companies are who use the pink ribbon to advertise their products? Estee Lauder, Revlon, and Avon. Guess what those companies’ response has been when the above campaign asked them to eliminate potentially cancer-causing chemicals from their cosmetics?

Check out some of these links–

  • at–the origin of the pink ribbon. According to this article, it wasn’t originally pink, but peach–until Estee Lauder wanted to use it to sell products.
  • a New York Times article about the results of the President’s Cancer Panel–hardly an alt-fringe group :-)!
  • The Cancer Panel report itself
  • Skin Deep, a website with cosmetic safety information (hint: click at the bottom where you can show 500 per page, it makes it easier!–or use their advance search), or their specific sunscreen page–scary to realize that practically every sunscreen you can buy at a mainstream pharmacy or grocery store has potentially cancer-causing chemicals in it.  And encouraging to at least have the impression that there are a lot more products in general in the mid-range, if not the “recommended” range, in a number of categories.
  • The Environmental Working Group and its accompanying EnviroBlog
  • the blog asks (and answers) the question: When is a pink ribbon a red flag?
  • The Breast Cancer Fund’s State of the Evidence 2010 report.
  • Read the “What is Body Burden” article on (IMO, this is a key–or even the key concept we need to be thinking about–toxicity isn’t just a question of simple cause and effect, it’s something that builds up gradually in our bodies over time.  If we can keep the burden low enough that our bodies can do their naturally efficient job of keeping us cleaned out and detoxed, that’s good…but who actually knows at what point the load is too big?)

A few days ago I blogged about how much we do, how much money we spend, how much Stuff Of Unknown (to us) Origin we put all over our faces and hair and bodies in the name of some inexact concept of Beauty...Would knowing the use of those products increases your risk of breast (or other) cancer cause you to stop, or make changes? Wouldn’t you rather not get cancer at all than pray there’s a better cure if you do?  The voices warning us about the long-term dangers of the way we live our lives every day are drowned out by the big media and marketing groups, but they are growing stronger, even if they still seem to come from the Fringey Green Wackos…and the Wackos, at least to me, are sounding less and less wacky these days, when we start seeing that what they are saying is being echoed by the doctors of those already diagnosed with cancer, like my friend from the beginning of this post.

Please, Think before you Pink.

And next October, don’t be surprised to see me wearing a peach-colored ribbon on my purse or coat lapel…


Posted on October 27, 2010, in health, is it safe?, rants and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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