Congratulations to Christie Aschwanden, 2013 Science in Society Journalism Awards

Congratulations to Christie Aschwanden, one of this year’s winners of the Science in Society Journalism Awards, sponsored by the National Association of Science Writers. Her piece, “The Real Scandal: Science Denialism at Susan G. Komen for the Cure” was posted on February 8, 2012, on the web site The Last Word on Nothing.

“It asserts that Susan G. Komen for the Cure — an organization advocating for breast cancer screening and research — ignored research on tumor biology to overemphasize screening. The judges called Aschwanden’s opinion article “persuasively argued, authoritative and highly informative.” In her commentary, Aschwanden took issue with the organization’s blame-the-victim tone and the false narrative that breast cancer is uniformly progressive and can only be treated if caught early. Such a position, wrote Aschwanden, ignores the perils of over-diagnosis and the potential for unnecessary and damaging treatments.”

When I first read Aschwanden’s piece I immediately asked to republish it on Pink Ribbon Blues as “one of the finest essays I’ve read about the “false narrative” (i.e., the fairytale notion that breast cancer is a uniformly progressive disease that starts small and only grows and spreads if you don’t stop it in time), and its use in selling wholesale screening, along with accompanying lifestyle and product placements, to the masses.” I couldn’t be more pleased that she has gotten sound recognition for this important work.

And here is her recent Washington Post story about why she is opting out of mammography.


Christie Aschwanden is an award-winning freelance writer and editor. She is a contributing editor for Runner’s World and was a contributing editor for Health from 2000 to 2010. She has been a contributing writer for Skiing and her articles and essays have appeared in more than 50 other publications including The New York TimesThe Los Angeles Times, The Washington PostO—the Oprah MagazineMen’s JournalSlate, NPR, Mother Jones, National Wildlife, Backpacker, Reader’s Digest, Self, WebMD, Science, Cell and New Scientist. Christie has also written and edited books and reports for the World Health Organization, the National Institutes of Health and other national and international organizations. She has been interviewed about her work by the BBC and other media. Christie’s coffee table book about chicken breeds, Beautiful Chickens, was published in 2012. Christie Aschwanden lives in western Colorado. Pink Ribbon Blues is pleased to republish her essay, “The real scandal: science denialism at Susan G. Komen for the Cure®,” which was originally published on the science blog, The Last Word On Nothing. Christie Aschwanden’s followup, “The false narratives of pink ribbon month, redux” is also republished on Pink Ribbon Blues, originally posted on The Last Word on Nothing.

Be Sociable, Share!

2 comments to Congratulations to Christie Aschwanden, 2013 Science in Society Journalism Awards

  • I read Christie Aschwanden’s Feb 2012 The real scandal: science denialism at Susan G. Komen for the Cure® piece with interest but was disappointed when she got to the 3 possible outcomes of mammogram, because a 4th was left out: false negative as a result of the radiologist declaring a white area as dense tissue, when in fact the whole area was a tumor. I realize false negative doesn’t happen much, but it does happen. So no, I do not think mammo’s save lives, but I wish false negatives were discussed more often. For those of us who had to put up with it, it matters just as much as over diagnosis. Due to human error, I almost became “late” detection, and it was not my fault–I got the recommended mammogram.

  • YES. While I read the three outcomes in terms of “cancer outcomes” your point is that false negatives and false positives ALSO result from mammograms.

    Mammograms frequently provide insufficient information to reach clear conclusions about the presence of tumors, and suspicious areas on a mammogram may or may not indicate cancer. A report from the Institute of Medicine stated that 75 percent of all positive mammograms, upon biopsy, were “false-positives” (i.e., did not show the presence of cancer). The cumulative risk in Europe and the United States of false positives in 10 screening rounds ranges from 20% to 60%. A recent study found that even after 3 years of being declared free of suspected cancer, women who had a false-positive consistently reported greater negative psychosocial consequences than their peers with normal findings and those with true breast cancer.

    Mammograms on average miss 25 to 40 percent of tumors that actually are cancerous. These are the called “false-negatives.” There are several reasons why mammograms miss these cancers, including the ability of the X-ray to clearly capture the image, the lack of certainty about how to interpret “suspicious” areas on the image, differences in the ability of radiologists to assess the image accurately, and the rate of tumor growth. Such important points. Thank you for commenting.

“Pink Ribbon Blues”

Paperback includes a new Introduction on fundraising controversies and a color insert with images of, and reactions to, the pinking of breast cancer (2012).


Praise » 

Flyer »

Press Release »

Hardback Cover »

Paperback Cover »

Request Review Copies »

Order the Paperback »

* GAYLE IN THE MEDIA *

"Seeing clearly through the pink haze" Toronto Sun

*Sad face*: Being happy does not help you live longer" New Scientist

How should we address breast cancer when norms continually change? The Guardian

Your Fun 'No Bra Day' Photos Are Overshadowing Terminal Breast Cancer Patients Broadly

Backlash against “pinkwashing” of breast cancer awareness campaigns BMJ

Breast Cancer to Rise 50 Percent by 2030? Hey, Not So Fast! Health News Review

Breast Cancer: The Flaws in the Cause iafrica.com

How to Make the Biggest Impact With Your Breast Cancer Donations Money

The Very Pink, Very Controversial Business of Breast Cancer Awareness Racked

NFL, Pink Ribbons Not Enough to Win over Women CNN

3 Questions We Need to Answer for Breast Cancer Awareness Month Chronicle of Philanthropy

The problem with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month Women's Health Magazine

Pink Ribbon Envy: Living with an Uncool Cancer The Nib

A Year After Bombings, Some Say 'Boston Strong' Has Gone Overboard NPR, All Things Considered

Canadian Mammogram Study KCRW, NPR Affiliate

Time to Debunk the Mammography Myth CNN

Breast Cancer: Awareness, Activism & Pinkwashing NPR Charlotte

Buying Pink Al Jazeera's The Stream Watch »

The Pink Backlash Orlando Sentinel

Why Jolie's Test Costs So Much CNN

Preventative Mastectomies: Disease and Deception BlogTalkRadio

Angelina Jolie and the 'Breast Cancer Gene' KCRW

Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer The New York Times Magazine.

The Story Behind the Pink Ribbon Campaign Sisters Talk Radio

WISH Interview Women's International Summit for Health

Making Cancer About The Patient, Not The Body Part CBS Pittsburgh

Sexy breast cancer campaigns anger many patients USA Today

The perils of pink The Daily

Komen pink campaign creates breast-cancer blues for some Dallas Morning News

A yellow flag for the NFL's pink New York Daily

Gayle Sulik named #7 in SharecareNow’s Top 10 Online Influencers in Breast Cancer

Breast cancer cancer causes so easily derailed Philly Inquirer

Komen Charity Under Microscope for Funding, Science Reuters

The Fight Against Cancer - And Abortion? Salon.com

Susan G. Komen For the Cure defunds Planned Parenthood. In Deep with Angie Coiro

Amid Breast Cancer Month, Is there Pink Fatigue? NPR's All Things Considered

How is Breast Cancer Culture Undermining Women's Health? America’s Radio News Network

Pink Ribbon Culture and Breast Cancer The Kojo Nnamdi Show

The Big Business of Breast Cancer
Marie Claire

Does Breast Cancer Awareness Month Crowd Out Other Diseases? Slate

Pink Inc. Has Many Starting to See Red The Sacramento Bee

Get Your Pink Off Ottawa Citizen

Komen Pink Ribbons Raise Green and Questions USA Today

** MORE MEDIA LINKS **
** MORE RADIO INTERVIEWS **