Call to Action: From Pink to Prevention

FPTP BannerPress Release: Remove the Pink Ribbon Blindfold and Ask the Big Question.

Embargo 10 am 1st October

16 international organizations and national groups have signed on to the statement prepared by From Pink to Prevention campaign, which calls on breast cancer charities everywhere to remove their pink ribbon blindfolds and ask why, despite all the money raised, more and more of us are getting this disease?

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P-P-pic-BlindfoldThis October, the U.K.-based group From Pink to Prevention is urging women and men to join them in removing the pink ribbon blindfold and asking Breast Cancer Charities to do the same.

Despite all the money raised in the name of breast cancer, incidence rates continue to rise. In Europe, rates of breast cancer have gone from 1 in 12 women in her lifetime in 1995 to 1 in 8 women today. In the U.S. the numbers are similar.

According to the World Health Organization, prevention (which is not the same as detection) offers the most cost-effective, long-term strategy for controlling cancer overall. The Asturias Declaration states that,

“Prevention of the environmental and occupational exposures that cause cancer must be an integral component of cancer control worldwide.”

Yet prevention (beyond individual lifestyle changes) is not reflected in most cancer plans and strategies despite the large and growing body of evidence pointing to environmental links to breast cancer and other health problems. We join From Pink to Prevention in asking why primary prevention (stopping the disease before it starts) is not equally addressed along with efforts to attain better treatment and care for the diagnosed?

Addressing the continuum of breast cancer care (prevention, causation, diagnosis, treatment, aftercare) is vital for tackling the breast cancer epidemic at large. The Breast Cancer Consortium highlights that diagnosis and treatment are important, but focusing solely on these aspects of the continuum of care — as most breast cancer awareness initiatives do– will not address the breast cancer epidemic at large. We will only reduce cancer incidence, morbidity, and mortality if we establish a model of breast cancer care that integrates work across the continuum, which must necessarily includes prevention, causation, diagnosis, treatment, aftercare, and research for metastatic cancer. Omitting any of these vital components fails to serve those who are diagnosed with, and at risk for, breast cancer.

From Pink to Prevention asks all of us who care about stopping breast cancer before it starts to sign this petition.

We signed it. Will you?

Additional Resources:

  • Environment, Breast Cancer Consortium Topic
  • Asturias Declaration: A Call for Action (2011) – The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) supports and endorses the Asturias Declaration, which calls for the primary prevention of environmental and occupational cancer in countries around the world. IARC scientists worked closely together with colleagues at World Health Organization to develop the scientific programme and to draft the Asturias declaration, a call for action.
  • Consensus Statement on Breast Cancer and the Environment (Breast Cancer Working Group of the Collaborative on Health and the Environment, 2006) – Concludes that research has made clear that breast cancer and other cancers result from a complex web of causation in which multiple factors interact.
  • Disease Clusters Spotlight the Need to Protect People from Toxic Chemicals (by Kathleen Navarro, Sarah Janssen, MD, PhD, MPH, Terry Nordbrock, MLS, MPH, Gina Solomon, MD, MPH) – An unusually large number of people sickened by a disease in a certain place and time is known as a ‘disease cluster’. Clusters of cancer, birth defects, and other chronic illnesses have sometimes been linked to chemicals or other toxic pollutants in local communities, although these links can be controversial. There is a need for better documentation and investigation of disease clusters to identify and address possible causes. Published by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
  • Identifying Gaps in Breast Cancer Research (Julia G. Brody, PhD, Marion H.E. Kavanaugh-Lynch, MD, MPH , Olufunmilayo I Olopade, MD, Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine, Susan Matsuko Shinagawa, Sandra Steingraber, PhD, David R. Williams, PhD, 2007) – a review of existing research—gathered from widely scattered sources—pointed toward discovering research areas that show some connection with the disease, and recommending further investigations that are likely to make the most difference toward eliminating the death and suffering caused by breast cancer. Published by the California Breast Cancer Research Program Special Research Initiatives.
  • Institute of Medicine report on Breast Cancer and the Environment: A Life Course Approach (2011) — Susan G. Komen for the Cure® provided funding for the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to review current evidence on breast cancer and the environment, consider gene–environment interactions, review the challenges in investigating environmental contributions to breast cancer, explore evidence-based actions that women might take to reduce their risk, and recommend research in all of these areas. The committee interpreted “environment” very broadly, to encompass all factors not directly inherited through DNA (e.g., how a woman grows and develops during her lifetime; what she eats and drinks; the physical, chemical, and microbial agents she encounters; how much physical activity she engages in; medical treatments and interventions she undergoes; and social and cultural practices that she experiences.)
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Medium-Term Strategy and Implementation Plan for 2010–2014 (2010) – Identifies how the IARC must orientate its activities over the next two decades such that it can best contribute to combating the projected increase in the global cancer burden.
  • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Environmental Factors and Breast Cancer Risk – Briefly outlines the Institutes efforts to research the interplay of genetic, hormonal, and environment factors in increasing breast cancer risk, including the landmark Sister Study of 50,000 healthy sisters of women diagnosed with breast cancer, the impact of family history (e.g., the BRCA1 gene), cancer causing chemicals and exposures, research centers focusing on breast cancer and the environment, and the role of artificial light.
  • National Toxicology Program Report on Carcinogens (13th Edition, 2013) – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell released the 13th Report on Carcinogens on October 2, 2014. The Report on Carcinogens (RoC) is a congressionally mandated, science-based, public health document that is prepared for the HHS Secretary by the National Toxicology Program. The report identifies agents, substances, mixtures, and exposure circumstances that are known or reasonably anticipated to cause cancer in humans.
  • Pathways to Breast Cancer: A Case Study for Innovation in Chemical Safety Evaluation (by Megan Schwarzman, MD, MPH and Sarah Janssen, MD, PhD, MPH, 2010) – Drawing on the fields of cancer biology, toxicology, medicine, epidemiology, public health, and public policy, a multidisciplinary expert panel reviewed existing methods for chemical toxicity testing and developed a testing scheme, called the Hazard Identification Approach. This approach provides a methodology for the identification of substances that could elevate breast cancer risk.
  • Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk, What We Can Do Now (2010) — The President’s Cancer Panel—a watchdog group of advisors charged with monitoring the National Cancer Program—released this report, which is the culmination of a series of hearings to gather input from experts and the public on the emerging evidence of links between environmental factors and cancer. The Panel was particularly concerned to find that the true burden of environmentally induced
    cancer has been grossly underestimated. With nearly 80,000 chemicals on the market in the U.S., many of which are used by millions of Americans in their daily lives and are un- or understudied and largely unregulated, exposure to potential environmental carcinogens is
  • State of the Evidence: The Connection Between Breast Cancer and the Environment (by Janet Gray, PhD, 2010) – The sixth edition of the Breast Cancer Fund’s signature report examining the scientific evidence linking exposures to environmental chemicals and radiation with breast cancer. In this edition, the evidence is placed in a larger conceptual context, with a substantial discussion of framing themes and methodological issues with new evidence cited in almost all categories of exposures covered.
  • The Falling Age of Puberty in U.S. Girls: What We Know, What We Need to Know (by Sandra Steingraber, PhD 2007) – This report is a review of the published literature on the timing of puberty in U.S. girls. It describes the basic biology of puberty, identifies the various determinants that seem to influence its onset and explores their possible interactions. Early puberty—in particular, early menarche—is a known risk factor for breast cancer. Ongoing ignorance about the extent to which chemical exposures are altering the timing of sexual maturation in children is directly attributable to a lack of basic data on the ability of common chemicals to act as endocrine disruptors.
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