Boobs Against Breast Cancer: Dubious "Awareness" Campaigns

Something I wrote for this week's edition of the Weekly Pulse health care newsletter. The gimmicky, pink breast cancer "awareness" stunts are getting old. 


October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. The National Cancer Institute estimates that over 207,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and that nearly 40,000 will die of the disease this year. Breast cancer is the second-most common form of cancer in women.

Amie Newman of RH Reality Check notes that even Kentucky Fried Chicken is getting in on the awareness action with pink chicken buckets “for the cure.” This month, KFC is donating 50 cents from each rosy-hued tub of Original Recipe chicken to Susan G. Komen For The Cure, a leading breast cancer advocacy group. The promotion is expected to raise between $1 million and $8 million for breast cancer research and activism. That’s between 2 million and 16 million buckets of chicken. It’s more of a barometer than a donation, really. 

The fewer buckets they sell, the more awareness has been raised. Newman notes that KFC’s french fries are an unusually rich source of acrylamide, a probable human carcinogen found in deep fried foods. In a recent study, women with the highest acrylamide intakes were at 43% greater risk for hormone-positive breast cancers.

Some marketers have decided that the root cause of our society’s lack of breast cancer awareness is our lack of breast awareness in general. This doesn’t seem quite right, especially because the breasts most likely to get cancer (those of women over 50) are seldom the breasts featured in the the various “save the gazongas” campaigns we’re subjected to every October.

Check out the rest of this edition of the Weekly Pulse at the Media Consortium's website. 

[Photo credit: Jeffrey, Creative Commons.]

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