In the years following the rise of the #pinkwashing meme, campaigns like Breast Cancer Action’s Think Before You Pink, movies like Pink Ribbons, Inc., and the various PR nightmares at Susan G. Komen for the Cure, you’d think that this kind of thing would be over. But it’s not.
When I first read about this campaign on EcoWatch, I thought it was a hoax. After all, fake news stories are a popular sport for some, and social media outrage is as easy to ignite as a fireworks factory.
This story had all the hallmarks of a hoax: How outrageous is it that a drilling equipment company involved in something as controversial as fracking, which is accused of causing cancer, would send out pink drill bits to “raise awareness” about breast cancer?
Here’s one of the fundamental rules of avoiding pinkwashing, from Think Before You Pink:
Many companies have sold pink ribbon products that are linked to increased risk of breast cancer. We believe that companies that are profiting from building a reputation based on their concern about breast cancer have a responsibilityto protect the public from possible harms when scientifi c research indicates that there is a risk or plausible reason forconcern. Some of the earliest cause-marketing companies were well-known cosmetics companies that continue to sell cosmetics containing chemicals that have been linked to breast cancer. Even car companies have gotten in on the action and sell cars that emit toxic air pollutants in the name of breast cancer. In considering a pink ribbon purchase, does the product contain toxins or otherwise increase our risk of breast cancer?
And here is EcoWatch again:
In addition to leukemia, benzene [produced by fracking] also a suspected cause of, well, breast cancer.
Benzene exposure is known to induce breast cancer in laboratory animals and is modestly associated with breast cancer among women. But the best evidence we have for the benzene-breast cancer link comes from studies of young male workers exposed on the job. Male breast cancer is clearly linked to occupational exposure to benzene.