The advertisement flyers did it. The pink cupcakes, the pink cookies, all highly processed made from refined flour and sugar, plus artificial colors, they had the well-known pink ribbon right next to them. Eat that to support breast cancer research? Really? And then the other flyers with cosmetics, pink seat covers and the rubber mats for cars. And plastic stuff, lots of products adorned with the pink ribbon. Well, I am slightly irked. OK, not slightly, but very much so. Some of the very things that have the pink appeal – no pun intended at all – should be avoided in the first place. Cosmetics companies that still use carcinogenic compounds, whether willingly disclosed or not, throw the pink ribbon on their forehead and walk proudly down the street. Plastics, research tells us, we should stay away from if we can help it, because some plastic compounds can affect the endocrine system and increase the risk of cancer. Remember bisphenol A (BPA), we’re still fighting to kick it out and it’s not easy. Buying plastic products to seemingly help fund cancer research is a bit of a cruel joke, I’d say. Test-driving cars and having money donated to breast cancer research for each ride when the very chemicals found in new cars have been shown to increase the risk of cancer, plus the exhaust gases adding insult to the injury, well, you do that math and please let me know if it looks better from your perspective. Because it sure looks gloomy from where I stand. If you think I’m a naysayer just look into how much of what you’re paying for a certain product that comes with a pink ribbon actually goes towards breast cancer research. After all, a good deed should be a good deed through and through not just on the surface. Because you see, if the seat covers are made using plasticizers or flame retardant chemicals which have been linked to cancer, then no pink ribbon in the world should be part of the selling advertisement. Yes, I agree that flame retardants in cars are a must, but removing the pink ribbon would only seem fair. The same goes for those $10 winter mittens, $1 of which will go towards breast cancer research. If cotton that was conventionally grown using pesticides that increase the risk of cancer was used to make the mittens, then part of the purpose is somewhat defeated I’d say. It’s time we care about all that we put out there and many companies do. It’s the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and all that long list of things that we use on a day to day basis. We can’t have it perfect, but we should strive for clean.

So, the ribbon. A good reminder by all means. Breast cancer is real. Globally, it affects more women than any other type of cancer and is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women. Hearing that is scary. Knowing what to do to decrease your risk and lending is a hand to finding a cure, well, that’s empowering. Awareness is crucial and so is the money to support research and spread the word. Should we kick the pink ribbon to the curb? No, not at all. There are walks and runs for breast cancer and there’s pink ribbons all over, there’s great ad campaigns about eating healthy and avoiding things that could increase the risk of cancer, including chemicals in the first place, and then there’s attaching the ribbon to something that makes a positive difference in the life of women. There’s so much you can do. Donate money, give a friend or family member who is dealing with cancer your time and energy, raise awareness in your own way, buy ribbon-adorned products if they are the true thing, but let pink be pink and not just a hue.  After all, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month! So make it real, make it count!