Stink Pink” By Phil Brown, Huffington Post.

What does it mean “to pink?” It means corporations get to look charitable, while getting cheap advertising. It means that people buy into a commodification of the suffering of women who have had breast cancer and their families, and the fears of so many others that they may become victims. It meshes with the frequent sexualization of ads for “breast cancer awareness” with shadowy sideways nude shots of women too young to likely be breast cancer victims. It fits with a deep attempt to make the only path one of individual solutions like choosing what to eat or buy. It joins with groups who attack as unscientific those who want to study the environmental causes of breast cancer. It’s why so many people concerned with environmental health talk about “breast cancer industry month.”

Now Susan G. Komen (hey, they even took off “for the Cure” from their name) has really outdone itself by teaming up with Baker Hughes, one of the world’s largest oilfield servicing companies and a major producer of fracking technologies. Baker Hughes is taking steel bits used to drill fracking wells, painting them pink by hand at the factory, and shipping them to drill sites in a pink-topped container containing information packets with breast health facts. That, plus their $100,000 donation to Komen, given October 26 at the Pittsburgh Steelers home game, will supposedly help stem the scourge of breast cancer — or will it be cheap advertising for a company dedicated to a dangerous technology?

Fracking, remember, is one of the major public health threats in the U.S. today, and spreading around the world.

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Additional Resources (alphabetical listing):

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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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