I walked into my office last week and saw pink everywhere. Pink balloons, pink tablecloths, and people wearing pink shirts. As I approached the tables, I asked what was going on and a lovely lady whom I am extremely fond of told me that they were doing a “Breast Cancer Awareness Breakfast.”
Breast Cancer Awareness Month as described by Wikipedia is:
Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), also referred to in America as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM), is an annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities every October to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. The campaign also offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer.
Everywhere we turn we see something related to breast cancer awareness month. Football players are wearing pink shoes, foods have pink ribbons on their labels…pink is everywhere. Clearly, breast cancer is a hot topic and everyone wants to show their support…
Yet as I stood by that table that morning, I found myself feeling angry and frustrated. This is what I saw:
What’s the big deal? People are simply getting together to support a cause, why am I so grouchy about the whole thing?
Look at the menu items being offered: Doughnuts, Cookies, Rice Crispy treats, Pastelitos, Bocaditos, Juice, and on and on. Are we really creating awareness?
Here are some interesting facts:
In 1984 Canadian physicians published a 30 year analysis of cancer incidence amount Inuit* in the western and central Arctic. These canadians could not find a single breast cancer case in an Inuit before 1966. There were 2 cases between 1967 and 1980. And then…the Inuit adopted our diets, and coincidentally their breast cancer rates have steadily increased, as well as their Diabetes Rates.
Most researches will agree that the link between Western diet/lifestyle and cancer manifests itself through an association with obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome – NY Times, Is Sugar Toxic? Gary Taubes
As Taubes writes in this amazing article, Craig Thompson, president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York best explains this process as follows:
… the cells of many human cancersthat the cells of many human cancers come to depend on insulin to provide the fuel (blood sugar) and materials they need to grow and multiply. Insulin and insulin-like growth factor (and related growth factors) also provide the signal, in effect, to do it. The more insulin, the better they do. Some cancers develop mutations that serve the purpose of increasing the influence of insulin on the cell; others take advantage of the elevated insulin levels that are common to metabolic syndrome, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Some do both. Thompson believes that many pre-cancerous cells would never acquire the mutations that turn them into malignant tumors if they weren’t being driven by insulin to take up more and more blood sugar and metabolize it.
I’m sorry for being harsh, but when we offer these foods at a breakfast for Breast Cancer Awareness, we are not contributing to the cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure… we are fueling this disease. Why is it that research institutes are all arriving at the same conclusions, yet doctors are not offering us changes in our diet as well as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery? I believe we all want to contribute to this cause and many of us make donations to organizations, run in 5ks and attend charity events to fund treatment…but how many of us are investing in our own health when we go to the grocery store?
We saw a great documentary on HBO the other day regarding food issues and one of the comments that struck us the most is that we have a “cheap food model. “Meaning, we don’t want to spend money on the food we eat…yet we are all paying a high price on the back-end when we get sick and need treatment.
Breast cancer and cancer in general is a serious disease. We are all affected by it one way or another. I personally have had a loved one die from Breast Cancer and most of us have come in contact with a woman who has been hit with this disease. We need awareness. But I don’t believe that wearing pink and gathering for sugary breakfasts is creating awareness. We need to change our lifestyles. We need to eat better. We need to offer our children a better way. The more we fund these giant companies by buying their products, the more power we are giving them and this disease.
I’m not suggesting that a woman that eats healthy can guarantee she will not get breast cancer…obviously genetics plays a role and diet and exercise alone will not beat our genetics. But I do believe that it helps our odds…and let’s be honest…. the only thing we can do is try to help our odds.
So the next time you buy vegetables for yourself and your family, or say no to the pastry being offered at your office, or get on a treadmill…remember, YOU are contributing to Breast Cancer Awareness and YOU are leading by example.
Let’s all educate ourselves and truly participate in the prevention of this disease.
*Indigenous people of Northern Canada