Thursday, November 4, 2010

Buying products that are linked to cancer... to support cancer research

Have you noticed this? I never really thought much about it, my family has been touched (like many I'm sure) by cancer, especially breast cancer. I believe that donating to cancer research is so important and am proud to say that our wedding raised 350$ for the Canadian Cancer Society (woot!).

This October (Breast Cancer awareness month) was a bit of a gong show, so lots of these thoughts were going on in the periphery of my brain while vows and homemade granola took front and center.

Upon my blog-world reading I read (somewhere, can't remember!) that the Breast Cancer awareness campaign is seriously flawed...

The Breast Cancer awareness campaign has been co-opted by consumer culture: "Buy our product and two dollars will be donated to breast cancer!" annnnd maybe you get a little ribbon or a magnet or something. And you think- my purchase is doing good, it's helping to stop breast cancer.

How many products that are in on this deal are actually linked to the cause of cancer? The beauty industry is a pretty strong contender for having loads of nasty chemicals that are linked to cancer. The industry has also been very present in the "buy to support breast cancer research" campaign. I'm pretty sure that buying a product that is loaded with chemicals linked to cancer development doesn't really help the problem. It's kinda like buying a gallon of gas to help fund the BP oil spill clean-up. Ridiculous.

Just today I was walking by a local hair salon who were advertising with the purchase of a shampoo brand filled with chemicals 2$ would go to breast cancer research.

Beauty products  contain chemicals such as phthalates like DEHP which causes birth defects in rats and has found it's way into breast milk. Products like lotions use phthalates to help penetrate the skin faster... and help the chemicals reach your blood vessels faster. Dandruff shampoo contains fish killing zinc and disulphide and cancer-linked (in humans) coal tar. Anti-bacterial soaps contain fish feminizing triclosan and triclocarbon now present in our water and riverways. Lipstick contains lead, petroleum, animal fats.... (Ecoholic 2006).

Ok, the point isn't really to be catastrophic, we've covered lots of natural alternatives. But the point here is that buying products that are part of the problem doesn't really equal helping breast cancer research.

As EcoGrrl said: "Pinkwashing: slap a pink ribbon on something and all the poisons melt away...."

Why not simply donate what you can afford directly to your nations Cancer Research Organization and begin revamping your beauty/cleaning arsenal? What are your thoughts eco-yogi(ni)s?

article copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. Amen, sister! American Cancer Society! I don't even support Susan G. Komen because so much of it is funded by corporations who do just what you were talking about. I guess you could call what many of these companies do 'pinkwashing' - plop a pink ribbon on it and suddenly all poisons melt away...

  2. I have the EXACT same thoughts on this!! If buying cancer-causing products to fund breast cancer research isn't irony, then I don't know what is!!!

  3. @EcoGrrl: hahah PINKWASHING! I totally added it to my post- awesome!
    I haven't actually heard of Susan G. Komen.... I'll check it out just to agree :)

    @Ashley Craft: exactly!

  4. We're such great consumers, really. People like to get 'something' for themselves when donating or fundraising. The training begins early, when children are bribed with prizes for raising money for their schools. I always prefer to make a donation, instead of buying or selling overpriced junk. I'm not missing your point about pinkwashing, just making an observation that we are conditioned to be undiscriminating consumers.

  5. Great post! I never really thought about "pinkwashing" before. I guess I don't normally buy products just because it has a pink ribbon. If it's something I'm looking for and there's a ribbon version, perhaps I'll buy the product then.

    Sounds like the foundations are so desperate for money that they'll allow a pink ribbon on almost anything. At least the money goes towards a good cause, buying diagnostic equipment, research, etc.

    Would be better if more money went towards education on preventing breast cancer instead of trying to detect and cure it. The things that prevent breast cancer also help prevent other diseases like diabetes, obesity, other cancers, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease...

    I actually work closely with Breast Screening programs all over the country. They are doing a wonderful job. The lady in charge in your province is exceptional. She's a rock star.

    If you are between 50-69, go get a mammogram! If you have a family history of breast cancer and are outside of that age group (in your 40's), go see your family doctor to get a breast screening referral!

  6. I laughed when I saw the title of this post. I had never thought about the connection before. You see pink stuff everywhere you go. I have a friend who's mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and she bought everything she could find that gave money to Susan G. Komen. She never even thought to just donate money. She always had to buy something to show that she supported it. Very good article.


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