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Breast Cancer Causes So Easily Derailed

Philly Inquirer by Karen Heller, May 9, 2012

Komen was the eminence rose in the bustling breast cancer business until the behemoth got into a major kerfuffle in February when headquarters cut off funding to Planned Parenthood, which was eventually reinstated. “Pink is not good enough. Awareness is not good enough. Throwing money at the problem is not good enough,” argues breast cancer research advocate Gayle Sulik, author of Pink Ribbon Blues. “I would argue there probably is enough money out there. It’s just how that money is being spent.

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Susan G Komen’s ‘pinkwashing’ Problem a Black Mark on Charity

The Guardian by Karen McVeigh, February 15, 2012

Few charitable groups have been more successful in so thoroughly associating a colour with a cause than Susan G Komen for the Cure has for breast cancer awareness. But the backlash against the charity for its move to defund Planned Parenthood has re-ignited the wider debate over “pinkwashing” – the act of a company or organisation claiming to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, despite producing or selling products that are linked to the disease.

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Moving Beyond Pink Ribbons

Los Angeles Times by Peggy Orenstein, February 15, 2012

Over the last two weeks, as Susan G. Komen for the Cure revoked funding for Planned Parenthood, then reversed itself, I watched through the scrim of something that, while less newsworthy, was, to me, no less significant: the death of Rachel Cheetham Moro, the 42-year-old writer of the blog Cancer Culture Chronicles.

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Komen Charity Under Microscope for Funding, Science.

Reuters by Sharon Begley, February 8, 2012

Komen’s 2011 financial statement reports $51 million spent on screening services, 12 percent of donor dollars. “Screening is their thing,” said sociologist Gayle Sulik of the University of Albany and author of the 2011 book “Pink Ribbon Blues.” “What they’re best at is awareness, which you could also call publicity,” she said. “Getting out the word that breast cancer exists is what they excel at – that and raising money. But if your mantra is ‘end breast cancer,’ screening isn’t going to do it.” Although screening mammography detects breast cancer earlier than waiting for symptoms to appear, it does not decrease mortality from breast cancer as scientists, advocates, and public health experts had hoped.

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A Stink About Pink: Better Alternatives Than Giving to Right-Leaning Komen

The Dallas Observer by Jim Schutze, February 2, 2012

Some good may come out of the Komen Foundation’s hard right turn on abortion this week. It was about time, anyway, for a fundamental re-examination of Komen by people committed to the cause of cancer research. You’ll find a good summary of reasons to be worried about giving to Komen, even before this week’s right-to-life train wreck, in a piece published last October in the Sacramento Bee. The paper’s main source was a book called Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health by medical sociologist Gayle A. Sulik, published in 2010 by Oxford University Press.

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The Fight Against Cancer – And Abortion?”

Salon.com by Tracy Clark-Flory, January 31, 2012

The Susan G. Komen Foundation says its decision defund Planned Parenthood isn’t political. Does anyone buy it? This explanation has been met with reasonable skepticism for a number of reasons. For one, the organization has faced increasing pressure from antiabortion activists to cut all ties to Planned Parenthood. For two, Karen Handel, the Foundation’s senior vice president for public policy, is antiabortion. During her failed 2010 gubernatorial campaign, she publicly stated, “I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood.” That’s not to mention, as sociologist Gayle Sulik, author of “Pink Ribbon Blues,” told me, “If Komen held its corporate partners to that standard, we’d see a lot fewer pink-ribboned products on the market.”

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The Conversation: Pink Inc., Has Many Seeing Red.

The Sacramento Bee by Francesca Lyman, October 23, 2011

All this month, the market has been saturated with pink-ribbon products sold in the name of breast cancer awareness, some with dubious ties to good health. . . But is all the glitz and commercialization masking some hard realities? As [Gayle] Sulik writes, “Breast cancer is not pink, and it’s not pretty.” These feel-good pinkathons, she suggests, may be distracting our society from more serious issues, such as assessing our progress in researching its causes and prevention, or trying to prevent the disease in the first place by minimizing exposure to carcinogens.

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Does Breast Cancer Awareness Month Crowd Out Other Diseases Affecting Women?”

Slate by Stacey Torres, October 17, 2011

Today you can hardly turn around in the supermarket aisle without bumping into something swathed in Pepto-Bismol pink. The campaign has raised awareness and billions of dollars, but has also provoked backlash from critics like sociologist Gayle A. Sulik, author of Pink Ribbon Blues. Sulik found that more money and earlier detection didn’t actually translate into reducing the chances of women dying of the disease.

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Get Your Pink Off

Ottawa Citizen by Joanne Laucius, October 1, 2011

It has been almost 20 years since pink ribbons first appeared on the cultural landscape, a symbol of hope, empowerment and determination to put an end to breast cancer. In those two decades the breast cancer mortality rate has fallen 35 per cent, according to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. That is, a woman diagnosed with breast cancer today is 35- per-cent less likely to die within five years of a breast cancer diagnosis than she was 20 years ago. But a Canadian woman still has a one-in-nine chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

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The Big Business of Breast Cancer

Marie Claire by Lea Goldman, October 2011 issue. [Picked up by Jezebel, Margaret Hartmann, “The Breast Cancer Charity Scam.”]

Aside from the slow-rolling hot dogs at concession stands and the sideline billboards for Hubba Bubba bubble gum, you’d be hard-pressed to find a hint of pink at any of the National Football League’s 31 stadiums, where, during most of the six-month season, the decor tends to match the distinctly masculine nature of the game. Not so in October, when pink becomes the de facto color of the sport. In this environment, it’s difficult to ask questions. “You know, breast cancer has been untouchable for a while. If you question anything, well then, you must hate women,” says Gayle Sulik, author of Pink Ribbon Blues. “That mentality makes it really hard to say, ‘What’s working? What’s not working?'”

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