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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Making Money or Making a Difference? || News

Companies have profited millions of dollars by raising awareness for breast cancer, yet in 20 years the question of how to cure breast cancer still remains unanswered.

Barbara A. Brenner, Executive Director of Breast Cancer Action, located in San Francisco, CA, said, "Breast cancer is the poster child for cause-marketing."

Cause marketing is an agreement made upon the partnership of a non-profit charitable organization and for-profit organization in an effort to promote their business, sell products and donate a percentage to a good cause.

As stated in an article titled "We Can't Waste Another October: End Pinkwashing and Stop Cancer Before It Starts," Astra Zeneca, a pharmaceutical company, began the epidemic of BCAM. Zeneca distributes cancer treatments as well as carcinogenic pesticides.

BCAM has eventually become a profit month for corporations that promote their effort to spread awareness by selling their own products.

Joseph F. Rocereto, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing in the department of marketing and international business, said, "In a world where resources are necessary to advance any cause, those both noble as well as malicious, cause marketing represents an opportunity for nonprofits to enhance their contributions to those who rely on them, and to society as a whole."

Eighty-five percent of consumers were willing to support a company when the proceeds benefit causes they care about, according to the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC).

In 2012, Susan G. Komen's available taxing file stated that Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, former CEO and founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, was paid an annual salary of $684,000.

"Many people were upset to learn about Brinker's $684,000 a year salary. This salary is beyond outrageous and should certainly be a cause for people to be skeptical. She is making an exorbitant amount of money on the backs of individuals who are ill or dying. More funding should go toward prevention - prevention research and prevention education," said Mary Harris, specialist professor in the department of communication.

Also in 2012, the NFL's "Catch for a Cure" campaign partnership with the American Cancer Society raised $1.5 million. According to the Business Insider in 2012, the NFL's revenue was an approximate $9.5 billon.

Samantha King, Ph.D., author of Pink Ribbons, Inc., Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy, said, "NFL, in the midst of what was called a character crisis, several players had been in trouble with the law, they were looking for ways to rehabilitate their image at the same time they had discovered that women made up a much larger percentage of their viewership than they previously realized, so they were interested in maintaining and extending their female audience."

In an article titled "A Pink Rethink: Breast-Cancer Spending Comes Under the Microscope," The Daily Beast reported, "In 1975, there were 31 deaths for every 100,000 women in the U.S., according to the National Cancer Institute. In 2007, the latest year for which statistics are available, there were 23 deaths for every 100,000 women."

According to Lea Goldman in an article for Marie Claire titled, "The Big Business of Breast Cancer," "Despite all these lifesaving developments, is that, in fact, we are really no closer to a cure today than we were two decades ago. In 1991, 119 women in the U.S. died of breast cancer every day. Today, that figure is 110 — a victory no one is bragging about. Breast cancer remains the leading cancer killer among women ages 20 to 59; more than 1.4 million new cases are diagnosed annually worldwide. Roughly five percent, or 70,000, breast cancer patients are diagnosed at a late stage, after the cancer has metastasized — that rate hasn't budged since 1975, despite all the medical advances and awareness campaigns."

Susan G. Komen, the American Cancer Society and the Avon Foundation are constantly promoting that women need to get mammograms to prevent breast cancer. Early detection does not prevent the disease from occurring.

"Early detection finds some cancers early enough to be treatable, they get those treatments and live a long life; early detection finds something that will never be life threatening, and treat it then the person gets sick; early detection finds aggressive cancer, but currently available treatments will not help you and there is nothing they can do to help. That is not hard to understand but people don't like that message," said Brenner.

One of the most powerful detection tools of breast cancer is mammography, yet, according to an article on breastcancer.org titled "Mammography: Benefits, Risks, What You Need to Know," mammography often misses approximately 20 percent of breast cancers.

"Until we do fundamental research to find out what's propelling breast cancer, we can't begin to legislate what to do to prevent it," said Olufunmilayo Olopade, MD., Director of the Cancer Risk Clinic at the University of Chicago.

NBCC stated on Sept. 20, 2010 that by Jan. 1, 2020 they will have the cure for breast cancer. This deadline was launched to monitor how research funds are spent, increase federal funding for breast cancer research, and also requires all advocate decision makers of breast cancer to be trained and qualified.

"We have to take on the challenge of finding the cause and stopping it. The fact that women are willing to walk, run, jump out of planes, climb mountains, shows how motivated women are to find the answer to breast cancer, " said Susan Love, MD., President of Love Research Foundation.

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