There’s a lot of talk about breast cancer awareness – slogans, t-shirts, ribbons, products, Facebook games, pink-lit buildings. The awareness mantra helps create fanfare, sell products, and generate interest in the breast cancer cause. Is that all there is to it?
What about the unintended consequences of the breast cancer industry?
- conflicts of interest
- lack of progress
- 40,000 deaths per year
- exploiting good intentions
- profiting from disease
Book Review: Mortality by Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens, a profound thinker and prolific author, writes his final book, Mortality (2012), about his life-ending illness. In describing the intimate experience of “livingly dying” with metastatic, esophageal cancer, Hitchens offers a highly personal narrative, sometimes poetic, and somewhat ironically, filled with humor. His fun and graceful use of language gives readers permission to become immersed in the essence of a terrible reality, one too morbid for many even to consider. Reading this short yet powerful book feels like listening to a brilliant, clear-headed friend talk about meaningful concepts in down-to-earth and sophisticated ways at the same time. — by Linda Rubin More »
Does The Sun’s Check ‘em Tuesday campaign raise awareness or set up a sexy breast cancer blame game?
Britain’s best-selling tabloid newspaper, The Sun launched a new campaign called “Check ‘em Tuesday” using topless models to promote breast self exam (BSE) as a way to “spot disease early.” The front page headline “Page 3 V Breast Cancer” features a topless twenty-two-year-old woman named Rosie, from Middlesex. Rosie strikes a similar pose on the page 3, this time revealing her right breast completely. The Sun’s infamous “Page 3” has published bare-breasted-pin up girls since the early 1970s when Rupert Murdoch first bought the paper. But a petition to remove topless images from Page 3 because it is demeaning to women led to boycotts. By aligning with a breast cancer “awareness” campaign, is The Sun just trying to assuage angst about the negative social implications of sexual objectification? — by Grazia de Michele More »
Time to debunk the mammography myth
(CNN) — For decades, belief in some version of “early detection cures breast cancer and saves lives” has shaped our view. In the 1970s, when women like Betty Ford and the late Shirley Temple Black were lifting the veil of secrecy and shame surrounding breast cancer, finding the disease “early” meant being alert to symptoms to find a tumor before it got so large it poisoned the body. In this context, it was logical to try to find tumors before they got to this point. Today “early detection” means something very different. — by Gayle Sulik and Bonnie Spanier More on CNN »
- Addition of screening mammograms adds no benefit, but causes harm, Canadian study finds by Gayle Sulik and Bonnie Spanier, Breast Cancer Consortium, Feb 18, 2014.
- Amy Robach Story Spreads Heartfelt Misinformation by Gayle Sulik, Psychology Today, Dec. 10, 2013.
- The Mammogram Myth, Alive and Well on “Good Morning America” by Gayle Sulik, Psychology Today “Essential Reads,” Nov. 14, 2013.
- News & Views: Mammograms can help–and harm by H. Gilbert Welch MD, CNN, Nov. 20, 2013.
- News & Views: Breast Cancer Screenings: What We Still Don’t Know by H. Gilbert Welch MD, The New York Times, Dec. 30, 2013.
- News & Views: Misfearing Breast Cancer: More evidence that routine mammograms make healthy people sick” by Christie Aschwanden, Slate, Feb. 14, 2014.
- The Mammography Debate: To Screen or Not to Screen? by Gayle Sulik, ShareCare, May 20, 2013.
- Factoids & Impressions from Breast Cancer Awareness Ads by Gayle Sulik, Oxford University Press, Oct. 26, 2011.
- Journal Article: A Systematic Assessment of Benefits and Risks to Guide Breast Cancer Screening Decisions by Lydia E. Pace and Nancy L. Keating, Journal of the American Medical Association, Apr. 2, 2014.
- Journal Article: Quantifying the Benefits and Harms of Screening Mammography by H. G. Welch and Honor Passow, Journal of the American Medical Association, Mar. 2014.
The PINK White Elephant
A new campaign by Kohl’s department store in partnership with Susan G. Komen [for the Cure] is, thirty years after the donning of the age of breast cancer awareness, calling on consumers to start a conversation about breast cancer, a so-called pink elephant in the room. There are many flaws with this campaign, including the usual misinformation, commercialization, trivialization, and hype common to mainstream campaigns. Another problem is the striking resemblance to a 2012 campaign by METAvivor Research and Support Inc. — a major difference being that metastatic breast cancer has been marginalized for decades by the very industry now claiming to start a conversation about breast cancer. More »
Related: Kohl’s Cash for the Cure Pretties Up Breast Cancer: Campaign capitalizes on the breast cancer brand, by Gayle Sulik, Psychology Today, Mar. 7, 2014.
The Beyond Awareness Workbook is an ongoing project that will be expanded to a full curriculum that is both clickable and available in its entirety as a PDF. It includes background to pink ribbon culture, trends in mainstream breast cancer awareness activities, and tools for action. More »
We are also developing a series of themed booklets (in color) for our Beyond Awareness campaign. The first 20-page booklet titled “Beyond Awareness” offers a brief history of the pink ribbon and the rise of national breast cancer awareness month, the development of a commercially focused breast cancer industry and survivorship culture, and key trends in awareness campaigns. More »
For our French speakers, the Paris-based organization “Au sein de sa différence” (ASDSD) developed a communications campaign to spur discussion of pink ribbon culture in France. The campaign has a booklet entitled, “Questions Roses” (Pink Questions) and includes an analysis and conversation between the french senologist-oncologist Dr. Dominique Gros MD and U.S. medical sociologist Dr. Gayle Sulik PhD.