Support Breast Cancer Through Pink Ribbon Products

Beth Brophy Health Guide
  • October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and today the New York Times style section addressed the question I’ve long wondered about: when you buy those “pink ribbon” products, how much of the price actually goes to breast cancer charities? The answer is, it varies.

    Naturally, I’m all in favor of breast cancer research and finding a cure. And, in general, I support the idea of shopping for a good cause, or shopping for any cause, for that matter. But whenever I see companies urging us to buy their brand of yogurt or their SUV as a way of helping to fight breast cancer, my cynical side comes to the fore. As eminent breast cancer expert Dr. Susan Love explains in the NYT article, people are kidding themselves if they think that walking, or buying pink things will solve the breast cancer problem.
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    Whenever anyone asks me to participate in the annual Avon three-day breast cancer walk, which involves a huge amount of hiking and camping, I write a check but decline to participate. “I’ve already suffered through cancer and chemotherapy, so I see no reason to sleep on the cold, hard ground,” I explain. (I do participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, which doesn’t involve sleeping bags and tents.)

    However, for companies, being seen as proactive in the fight creates good will among consumers. Thus the growth of what the NYT calls “causemetics.” Buy a lipstick and help the cause. And more money for research is more money for research. It’s a win-win.

    Still, it brings to mind the old joke about the two men running into each other at a pro-abortion rally. “Joe, I didn’t know you were a feminist now,” says his old friend Tom.

    “What, are you kidding?” answers Joe. “These days, it’s the only way to get a date.”

    So I’m off to buy a new lipstick.

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Published On: October 06, 2005