Dear Friends in Prevention,

This fall, we're launching a new campaign: Turn Pinkwashing Into Prevention (read more about pinkwashing below).  Starting with the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) illumination ceremony October 2nd, representatives of the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) will make our voices heard at awareness events.


Turn Pinkwashing Into Prevention
Museum of Fine Arts Boston


The campaign began with a letter to the Director of the MFA (read the letter here). The MFA was receptive to our message and expressed an interest in incorporating breast cancer prevention into their event. An MBCC flyer about prevention will be made available at their illumination ceremony and throughout the month of October in the MFA Sharf Information Center. MBCC President of the Board of Directors, Margo Simon Golden, will be introduced and the MBCC mission statement will be announced from the podium at the event. Margo will be available after the program for questions from the public about prevention and environmental links to breast cancer.  


It's time to take back a breast cancer movement which has been co-opted by pink organizations and corporate partners who sell products which contain toxic chemicals that have been linked to breast cancer and yet profess they are truly concerned with early detection and treatment. Turn Pinkwashing Into Prevention targets the key issues in pinkwashing: the refusal to acknowledge environmental links to the disease, lack of true prevention efforts, and the resulting failure to reduce breast cancer incidence. If you know of any pink events in your community which could use some prevention education, send the event name, date, and location to cosimo@mbcc.org. Your help will be instrumental to our success.

Best wishes,
Cheryl Osimo
Executive Director
Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition

Moving Forward Beyond the Pink Ribbon

Like so many before it, this October brings a surge of breast cancer promises made by pink ribbon products and illumination ceremonies. As we report year after year, these acts to "raise awareness for breast cancer" do very little to end the breast cancer epidemic. It is time for a transformation towards a strategy that is successful at reducing breast cancer incidence. It is time for prevention.


Throughout its history, the pink symbol has come to carry some negative consequences. It has not been associated with the reduction in breast cancer incidence as originally promised. The first breast cancer ribbon was peach, not pink, made by a woman named Charlotte Haley and handed out to community members with a message about prevention. A representative of Estée Lauder approached Charlotte to join forces. Realizing that Estée Lauder wanted to market the symbol and the cause of breast cancer for profit, Charlotte declined the invitation. In response, Estée Lauder changed the ribbon color to pink and launched the first of many cause-related marketing schemes which have now become the norm in mainstream breast cancer advocacy.


In recent years, this type of pink awareness has come under scrutiny by some breast cancer organizations, academic scholars, and the public at large. With such publications as Pink Ribbons Inc.: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy by Samantha King and a subsequent film documentary, there is a growing critique of pink ribbon attempts to "raise awareness." First and foremost, with incidence rates showing that one in eight women will be diagnosed in her lifetime, it is safe to say the public is already "aware" of this devastating epidemic. Now we must take meaningful action to prevent the disease from continuing at these high rates.


Certain pink ribbon organizations and their partners in marketing generate the majority of breast cancer research funding. Unfortunately, less than 7% of this money goes to research on prevention. More often than not, there is no acknowledgement and even avoidance of the research supporting preventable environmental links to breast cancer such as exposure to chemical carcinogens. To keep breast cancer around is to keep these pretty pink feel-good marketing campaigns alive and well. The body of scientific evidence regarding preventable causes of the disease has in fact merited federal reports including the 2008-2009 annual report of the President's Cancer Panel, "Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What we can do now" and the Federal Interagency Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Coordinating Committee report "Breast Cancer and the Environment: Prioritizing Prevention" released in February of 2013.


Unfortunately, the ubiquitous pink ribbon and pervasive color pink continue to symbolize a single perspective on the breast cancer epidemic. This perspective promotes messages of early detection, treatment and cure, symbolic awareness raising ceremonies, and marketing pink ribbon products despite the use of chemicals linked to cancer -- all at the expense of true prevention.


Promoting early detection, researching treatment options, and searching for a cure are important missions, but the most important goal is to prevent breast cancer before it starts. This would save countless women and their families from having to endure the hardship of a breast cancer diagnosis, painful treatment regimens, and expensive healthcare costs. The failure to acknowledge and work toward prevention is to seal the fate of one in eight women doomed to suffer a breast cancer diagnosis during her lifetime.


The breast cancer movement is long overdue for a message transformation. You can help make this change: beware of empty pink ribbon promises this October, and concentrate your efforts on prevention. It is unfair to those affected by this disease to deny this side of the issue. That is why we continue our mission to prevent environmental causes of breast cancer through community education, research advocacy, and changes to public policy. To join our effort, subscribe to our email blasts at www.mbcc.org and find us on Facebook and Twitter.  


Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

-Margaret Mead

From MBCC President Margo Simon Golden 

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and their colleagues released their October 2013 Committee Opinion "Exposure to Toxic Environmental Agents," which advises health care providers "to alert patients regarding avoidance of toxic exposures" and "join leading scientists and other clinical practitioners in calling for timely action to identify and reduce exposure to toxic environmental agents while addressing the consequences of such exposure." In response, the chemical industry, represented by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), states that current environmental regulations offer enough consumer protection and that the new report will create "confusion and alarm among expectant mothers" and distract them from proven steps for a healthy pregnancy.


Who would belittle women and state that expectant mothers would be confused and alarmed by medical advice? ACC. Who would disagree with leading medical organizations who advocate for policy changes to chemical regulations? ACC. ACC, representing industry giants like Dow Chemical, Dupont, and Exxon Mobil, has been instrumental in blocking and delaying an overdue update to federal and state chemical regulations for years. According to the report Toxic Spending: The Political Expenditure of the Chemical Industry, 2005-2012 by the non-profit Common Cause, "The chemical industry's successful campaign to prevent Congress from strengthening the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)--which has not been updated since it was passed in 1976--has been accompanied by a growing surge in political expenditures. ... From 2005 through June 2012 it spent $333 million on lobbying at the federal level." If this information was common knowledge, the public would have a better understanding of why we continue to be contaminated without consent by persistent, bioaccumulative, endocrine disrupting, and carcinogenic chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA), flame retardants, and formaldehyde.


Can you imagine the difference in outcome if $333 million was spent to reform, strengthen, and enforce TSCA? Instead, as Common Cause's report states, the chemical industry's "three avenues of influence--campaign contributions, lobbying expenditures, and political advertising--have played an important part in the industry's campaign to convince lawmakers and voters that the environmental and public health benefits of strengthening TSCA and other regulations would be outweighed by economic costs."


Click here to read the full article


Cape Cod Residents Continue to Call for a No-Spray Commitment from NSTAR
Claire B.W. Miller, Mass. State Director, Toxics Action Center; Steve Seymour, GreenCape; Cheryl Osimo, Mass. Breast Cancer Coalition and Silent Spring Institute; David Dow, Sierra Club
On September 20, 2013 Cape Cod residents gathered on Phiney's Lane under the NSTAR electrical right of way to once again battle NSTAR's plan to spray pesticides along the power lines on Cape Cod. This fall, the utility announced plans to spray herbicides along approximately 100 miles of powers lines on Cape Cod and the Islands in order to control plant growth. Although they had previously agreed to several years of moratorium on spraying, the company plans to resume spraying as early as this fall.
"How many times do Cape Codders have to say 'NO' to NSTAR and Northeast Utilities?" said Sue Phelan, Director for GreenCAPE, a local grassroots non-profit that supports the elimination of NSTAR's herbicide use over the Cape's drinking water supply.
Phelan told attendees, "There is no need to expose communities to dangerous chemicals when a saw, a big mower, a herd of goats, or mechanical trimmers followed by active plantings would accomplish the same goal with zero risk to the aquifer. It's time for NSTAR to move into the 21st century and acknowledge all the scientific research that supports our concerns."
Cheryl Osimo of the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition and Silent Spring Institute expressed, "This utter disregard for human health and the ecosystem is unacceptable and should not be tolerated."

Dr. Craig Slatin, a Professor from the University of Massachusetts Lowell with expertise in environmental science and public health has also expressed concerns for the water supply: "I am particularly concerned about the contamination of drinking water on Cape Cod and any resulting effects on public health," said Dr. Slatin. "Cape Cape Cod's aquifer is designated a Sole Source Aquifer by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. By definition, if this source of water were to be deemed unfit for human consumption, there is no viable alternative for providing water to residents on Cape Cod who depend on it, and its contamination would create a significant public health hazard."
Over the past two years, all fifteen towns on Cape Cod have passed resolutions against NSTAR spraying, nearly 200 small business owners have endorsed the effort, 100 scientists and health professionals across the state sent a letter to the NSTAR CEO with their concerns about the spraying, thousands of Cape Cod residents have signed the petitions, hundreds have made phone calls into company headquarters, and hundreds more have pledged to go pesticide free in their own homes and gardens.
Phelan continued, "Northeast Utilities has stated their companies are 'committed to environmental leadership and stewardship.' We want them to realize that commitment this fall, and into the future, to protect Cape Cod, a national treasure. We're simply asking the utility to return to the cutting and mowing NSTAR and previous utilities used successfully for decades to control weeds, shrubs, and trees in the rights of way.
The rights of way interface with private homes, public lands, lakes, ponds, water supply wells, gardens, play areas, and bike trails. The group claimed that the phenomenon of pesticide drift has also made it likely that an estimated 95-98 percent of pesticides end up in or on something other than the intended target.
At the rally, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, Cheryl Osimo, said, "NSTAR needs to to take responsibility for protecting the health of Cape citizens instead of spraying their neighborhoods with chemicals with unknown consequences. This utter disregard for human health and the ecosystem is unacceptable and should not be tolerated."

 The Cape legislative delegation has managed to wrench a 45 day extension to the MDAR (MA Department of Agricultural Resources--the NSTAR's regulator) comment period on NSTAR's Yearly Operational Plan. If you haven't expressed your objections to this proposed spraying earlier, please do so before November 1st. A simple statement is all that's needed. NSTAR does not own this land, nor do they have complete maps indicating private wells and other sensitive areas. Cape Cod already has elevated rates of breast cancer. Your help is needed to halt the spraying of herbicides above the Cape's only drinking water supply. For contact info and suggested actions, please click here.


Reduce Your Exposure  


Keep your indoor air fresh:   


1. Open windows periodically to ventilate your home and improve indoor air quality. 



2. Avoid commercial air freshners and other scented products - use items labeled "fragrance-free" rather than "unscented" because these can include masking fragrance compounds.

3. Try natural options such as fresh flowers and greens, beeswax and organic candles (instead of parrafin), or whole spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.   

Be proud of small changes to reduce your exposure. Start with small steps and increase from there. For more tips to reduce your exposure, click here.


MBCC Research Updates Video Series Needs Your Help! 

Help us spread the word about prevention and continue our video project by sponsoring a video segment! Each segment costs approximately $1000 to produce. For a donation of $100 or more you can sponsor an upcoming video segment and see your name in the credits and listed on the MBCC website! To make your tax deductible contribution, call 1-800-622-MBCC or click the link below.   



Stay tuned for the next video featuring Dr. Laurel Schaider, PhD, Research Scientist at Silent Spring Institute discussing emerging contaminants and endocrine disrupting compounds in water. This segment will air in the November/December eNewsletter.  



Click here to watch the first or second videos in the series


Upcoming Events

Silent Spring Institute Research Update

Festival of  {Giving} Trees

Lesbian Dance

About MBCC
The Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition is dedicated to preventing environmental causes of breast cancer through community education, research advocacy, and changes to public policy. Thank you for supporting our efforts toward breast cancer prevention. Learn more.




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Rockland, MA
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