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Breast cancer

"Think before you pink": Critics say breast cancer ribbons may be little more than marketing gimmicks

Thursday, November 02, 2006 by: Ben Kage
Tags: breast cancer, cancer marketing, health news

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(NewsTarget) Breast cancer is the second most deadly cancer of all and is increasing in prevalence, so it is no surprise that "pinked" products promising to help fight the disease are so popular, but some critics say the movement is just another marketing gimmick and consumers should "think before they pink."

The "shop for a cure" is promoting pink ribbons on a variety of products from pet food and frozen dinners to knives and cars, but Breast Cancer Action group's Executive Director Barbara Brenner said that consumers need to stop and think about how much of their money goes to fighting the disease, which charity will get the money, and what it will be used for.

"Any company can put a pink ribbon on anything,'' said Brenner, whose advocacy group runs www.ThinkBeforeYouPink.org. She adds that some companies only make small donations or cap their donation amount at a fixed sum, no matter how much the consumer purchases. Other companies' promotions can have consumers spending the same amount to send in lids or labels to earn charity money as the companies end up donating. October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so some companies just put the popular pink ribbon on their products to "promote awareness," while donating nothing to treatment or research for a cure, Brenner says.

Brenner suggested that consumers bypass these companies and write a check directly to local charities that are doing good work.

The largest group devoted to breast-cancer research, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, asks that dollar amounts of donations, minimum guaranteed donation, and the covered time period be printed on the label of products sold by its corporate partners, as per the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance guidelines.

As much as $33 million is expected from said corporate partners, notes cause marketing manager Krissy Barker, who added that the companies deserve publicity if they are making real contributions to the cause. However, she said that consumers should read labels closely before buying pinked products or making donations.

"Some of the companies touting pink ribbons on their products give absolutely nothing to breast cancer research," said Mike Adams, creator of the "Education, Not Medication" program for breast cancer prevention awareness. "Even those companies that make a donation are focused almost exclusively on a slash-and-burn treatment approach to cancer, using toxic chemotherapy treatments and radical surgical procedures.

"Almost no one is teaching women how to actually prevent breast cancer through sensible nutrition, avoidance of exposure to toxic chemicals and regular exercise," Adams said.


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