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The Book

Pink ribbon paraphernalia saturate shopping malls, billboards, magazines, television, and other entertainment venues. Thousands of everyday products have been produced in special pink ribbon editions, with some of the proceeds going to various breast cancer foundations. The pervasiveness of the pink ribbon campaign leads many to believe that the fight against breast cancer is progressing, when in truth it’s barely begun.

Based on eight years of research, analysis of advertisements and awareness campaigns, and hundreds of interviews with those affected by the disease, PINK RIBBON BLUES highlights the hidden costs of the pink ribbon as an industry, one in which breast cancer has become merely a brand name with a pink logo.

“Sulik’s compassion is evident throughout this work, even as she takes to task how cancer industries that benefit from the disease’s human cost fall short of their promise to science and humanity. Pink Ribbon Blues is a thoroughly documented academic work. Her clear thinking and tight writing make a stimulating and hugely educational read for anyone looking for guidance or insights on the vicissitudes of current efforts to improve our health.”

Bonnie Spanier, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Emerita Professor of Women’s Studies, University at Albany

Indeed, while survivors and supporters walk, run, and purchase ribbons for a cure, cancer rates rise, the cancer industry thrives, corporations claim responsible citizenship while profiting from the disease, and breast cancer is stigmatized anew for those who reject the pink ribbon model. But Sulik also outlines alternative organizations that make a real difference, highlights what they do differently, and presents a new agenda for the future.

The paperback edition (2012) includes a new introduction about recent fundraising controversies involving Susan G. Komen for the Cure and a 4-page color insert with images of, and reactions to, the pinking of breast cancer.


This research was funded in part by a research fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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