Komen, Still Spreading Screening Hype


I was taken aback a moment ago when I came across a Facebook update from yesterday posted by a Komen Affiliate. It was advertising free mammograms. There is nothing wrong with offering free mammograms per se, but the announcement included a heavily scrutinized advertisement that claims getting screened is the key to surviving breast cancer. It isn’t. If concern about Komen’s misrepresentation of scientific information sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve already been over this.

Professors Steven Woloshin, MD, and Lisa M. Schwartz, MD, . . . → Read More: Komen, Still Spreading Screening Hype

The false narratives of pink ribbon month, redux

Christie Aschwanden photo

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 Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, O—the Oprah Magazine, Men’s Journal, Slate, 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 . . . → Read More: The false narratives of pink ribbon month, redux

The trouble with Komen: Misusing statistics/Generating false hope


This article was edited since its original publication.

It is now widely known that the benefits of wholesale mammography screening were overpromised. Rates of overdiagnosis (i.e., when a diagnosed tumor lacks the potential to progress to a clinical stage, or is so slow-growing that the person would die from other causes) are higher than previously realized. We still do not know what causes breast cancer, how to prevent it, or why it recurs. The breast cancer that kills (i.e., metastatic) continues to strike hundreds of . . . → Read More: The trouble with Komen: Misusing statistics/Generating false hope

The real scandal: science denialism at Susan G. Komen for the Cure®

Journalist Christie Aschwanden has written 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. With permission, the Pink Ribbon Blues Blog republishes Christie Aschwanden’s essay: “The real scandal: science denialism at Susan G. Komen for the Cure,” originally published . . . → Read More: The real scandal: science denialism at Susan G. Komen for the Cure®

3. Factoids and Impressions

One might assume that anything involving breast cancer awareness would be based on the best available evidence. Unfortunately, this assumption would be wrong. I’ve evaluated hundreds of campaigns, advertisements, websites, educational brochures, and other sundry materials related to breast cancer awareness only to find information that is inaccurate, incomplete, irrelevant, or out of context. We could spend the whole year analyzing them. For now, consider a print advertisement for mammograms by CENTRA Mammography Services. [Note: I previously shared this ad back in July in an . . . → Read More: 3. Factoids and Impressions

A Call for Responsible Reporting

Andrea Mitchell MSNBC

On September 7th, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell told viewers that on a “personal note” she was “now among the one in eight women in this country…who have had breast cancer.”

In her one-minute reveal about how her summer vacation ended with a diagnosis instead of a hiking trip, Ms. Mitchell assured viewers that her breast cancer was found “during her annual screening…at its earliest stage,” and that it “had not spread.” As evidence of her successful treatment, she said, “I’m already back . . . → Read More: A Call for Responsible Reporting

Mammogram Mania

Image from www.breastcancersite.com

You wouldn’t know it from the pink billboards but questions about the benefits and risks of screening mammography have been ongoing in the medical scientific community for decades. No screening test has been studied more extensively, and study after study confirms that the vast majority of women (70 to 90%) do not have their lives lengthened as a result of routine screening. What’s more there’s a good chance they will be overdiagnosed (5 to 50 percent) and over-treated (20 to 30 percent), . . . → Read More: Mammogram Mania

“It’s Time To Get Real”

The commercialization of breast cancer has been a growing trend. Beginning with the emergence of the pink ribbon in 1992, there has been an increasing notion that breast cancer “awareness” results from pink osmosis. Many, including myself, have asked: What exactly are people made aware of? When analyzing the imagery associated with pink ribbon products and awareness activities, the messages are clear:

Breast cancer exists.

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All women are at risk.

[singlepic id=33 . . . → Read More: “It’s Time To Get Real”

Pink Kitsch, Brought To You By NBCAM

During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM), and throughout the year, pink ribbons and products abound in supermarkets, shopping malls, magazines, newspapers, television shows, billboards, and work places with inspirational stories from pink ribbon culture to accompany them. The media-friendly interplay of pink femininity and cancer culture provides a light, entertaining, and at times comical depiction of the cause of breast cancer that some, including myself, find disturbing.

Like most everyone else spreading the pink, NBCAM has its own store for pink products. These . . . → Read More: Pink Kitsch, Brought To You By NBCAM

“1 in 8” – Fear Mongering and the Probability of Developing Breast Cancer

Every year, over 700 thousand women in the United States are diagnosed with some type of cancer. Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women and is the second leading cause of cancer death (after lung cancer). In 2009, the American Cancer Society estimated over 192 thousand new cases of breast cancer among women and over 40 thousand deaths. Although 80 percent of new breast cancer cases were in women over age fifty, a growing number were diagnosed at earlier ages. Nearly . . . → Read More: “1 in 8” – Fear Mongering and the Probability of Developing Breast Cancer

New @ASCO guidelines on the screening, assessment & care of anxiety & depressive symptoms in adults w/cancer ascopost.com/ViewNews.aspx?… #bcsm

“Pink Ribbon Blues,” Book

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

Order the Paperback » 

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Recent Sulik Interviews

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

Canadian Mammogram Study KCRW, NPR Affiliate

Breast Cancer: Awareness, Activism & Pinkwashing NPR Charlotte

Buying Pink Al Jazeera's The Stream Watch »

The Pink Backlash Orlando Sentinel

Preventative Mastectomies: Disease and Deception Listen to BlogTalkRadio »

Angelina Jolie and the 'Breast Cancer Gene' Listen to 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