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Breast Cancer Month: When 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, how much more awareness do we need?

Time to move “beyond the pink” to cancer prevention, says the Breast Cancer Fund

For Immediate Release: October 1, 2013
Contact: Margie Kelly, 541-222-9699, mkelly@breastcancerfund.org, or Shannon Coughlin, 415-336-2246, scoughlin@breastcancerfund.org

SAN FRANCISCO – In October, pink ribbons can be found on everything from cosmetics to canned foods to football jerseys, urging us to be aware of breast cancer. But when 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with the disease, how much more awareness do we need?

That’s the question posed by the Breast Cancer Fund’s new initiative, “Beyond the Pink,” which aims to shift the conversation from awareness to prevention of the disease. People from around the country who are affected by breast cancer, from firefighters to young survivors, are pledging to go beyond the pink and sharing their stories of why awareness isn’t enough—why they want to stop the disease before it starts.

Jeanne Rizzo, president and CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund, said that this initiative will challenge the status quo when it comes to breast cancer. “We’re working for a world beyond pink ribbons, beyond awareness. It’s a world where far more research dollars go into how to prevent breast cancer and where lawmakers and companies ensure the products we use every day don’t contain toxic chemicals linked to cancer. It’s a world where fewer women—or men—ever have to hear the dreaded words, ‘you have breast cancer.’”

Eliminating exposure to toxic chemicals linked to breast cancer is one crucial step toward preventing the disease. In just a generation, there has been a 40-percent increase in breast cancer; recent science confirms that environmental factors like toxic chemical exposures have played a major role in the rise. Under current laws, it’s perfectly legal to add toxic chemicals – even those known to cause cancer – to products used on our bodies and in our homes, from shampoos and lotions to household cleaners and canned foods.

As part of the Beyond the Pink initiative, people are invited to tell their stories about why they want institutions and individuals to shift the allocation of resources from awareness efforts toward actions that will prevent breast cancer. 

Lt. Heather Buren, a firefighter with the San Francisco Fire Department, shares her story via a video submission in which she explains that firefighters have higher rates of cancer than the general population, and says, “I’m beyond the pink because I’ve seen, with my friends dying, what a ‘cure’ is. That’s not the answer. I want to prevent… In the last four years, I’ve had six of my co-workers and friends diagnosed with breast cancer…  If I’m going to go into a building that’s burning full of toxic chemicals, that’s my job (but) I don’t want to be a sitting duck…. I want to prevent.”

Erin Hyman, president of the Bay Area Young Survivors submitted a video, saying “I’m beyond the pink because what we need is not any more so-called awareness; what we need is action, what we need is prevention… Pink ribbon culture can give you the impression that no one is dying from this disease anymore, that it’s not a big deal anymore. But 13 women in my organization died in the past year… Pink has never really been my color.”

Federal investment in breast cancer prevention is woefully inadequate, according to a federal report released earlier this year. Only about 10 percent of the billions of dollars spent researching breast cancer have been focused on environment factors and prevention.

The Breast Cancer Fund is inviting people to take a pledge to go beyond the pink and download a toolkit of information to reduce or avoid dangerous chemicals in homes and on shopping lists. People are also invited to submit videos, photos or written thoughts about why they are going Beyond the Pink.

Follow and join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #BeyondThePink.

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ABOUT BREAST CANCER:
•    Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in their lifetime.
•    Most breast cancers occur in people with no family history, so environmental factors must play a significant role in the causation of the disease.
•    Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, the second leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer in the United States, and the leading cause of cancer death in women worldwide.
•    Black women experience the highest death rates from breast cancer despite lower incidence rates than white women.
•    Breast cancer incidence rates in Asia and Africa have increased dramatically in recent years.
(SOURCE: IBCERCC report)

The Breast Cancer Fund is the leading national organization working to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposures to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease.