Give PinkWashing The Bird

Jessica of InTruBeauty in a beautiful smileThe issue of breast cancer is extremely important to me as three women in my biological family have all suffered and survived from breast cancer. Cancer research, prevention and diagnosis are therefore extremely important to me and the health of my family. In the decades of cancer research and millions of dollars, we actually have more people with cancer than ever before. You are considered a breast cancer survivor if you have lived for 5 years past diagnosis and if you pass away just one day later, you are still considered a cancer survivor and thus really a success in their books. Is this good enough for you or should you demand better?

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, excluding cancers of the skin. Women in the U.S. have a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer during their lifetime.”

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month or “Pinktober” as it may seem, we can all feel warm and fuzzy seeing products to raise awareness with cute pink ribbons all over. I mean what else do you need to market to women other than putting our favorite color on a product with a cute ribbon? Companies know it is a gold mine and the focus on the actual cause gets lost. When you purchase a product because it has that pink ribbon in it, where is your money actually going?  How much of it is going directly to the cause, if anything at all?

Enter what is known as pinkwashing. Pinkwashing essentially means that a company may be using Breast Cancer Awareness and placing a pink ribbon on their products simply to raise awareness and little to no money from that purchase may be given to the actual cause. Their sales may benefit and yet the cause does not.

Karuna Jaggar, executive director of the nonprofit watchdog Breast Cancer Action. Her organization defines a pinkwasher as “A company or organization that claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, but at the same time produces, manufactures and/or sells products that are linked to the disease.”

Some of the offenders:


  • Chevrolet
  • Swiffer/Procter Gamble in 2012
  • Sugar and chemically laden baked goods
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • 5 Hour energy
  • KFC
  • Polishes with formaldehyde
  • Perfumes
  • NFL A Crucial Catch Program


Some companies that get in on this for publicity and profit are some of the companies whose products contain dangerous cancer causing ingredients. When I see some of the companies jumping on the pink ribbon bandwagon, I’m shocked. It’s just like McDonald’s promoting their salads or smoothies as healthy or Gatorade using athletes at the top of their game to sell liquid chemicals. Many countries have banned the use of certain chemicals and genetically modified foods but in the United States you can’t swing your purse without knocking over some genetically modified corn.

There are alternative treatments out there that get little to no publicity and are kept out of the medical journals which get ad revenue from pharmaceutical companies. Drug companies don’t want people to be cancer free through use of food, vitamins (especially high dose Vitamin C), hemp, eating Lima beans to reduce risk and avoiding products that don’t cause cancer in the first place. But where is the profit in that? Medical doctor receive little to no training on nutrition and alternative medicines. They treat the symptoms not the cause. So we end up with medical and pharmaceutical industries that treats the cancer but doesn’t focus on the the actual cause or prevention.

What to do?

Don’t just trust that pretty little pink ribbon on the product. Read the product find out how much of the proceeds go to the cause, if any at all. Check coupons and the fine print to see if there is a donation limit that the company has put in place. Know exactly what foundation or charity this money is going to and if they are reputable. Check out a company with the Better Business Bureau. Do your research before putting down your cash and demand better.


Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,

Forbes reports on the debate too

Jessica is a lifestyle and beauty blogger at InTruBeauty on a quest to change her life through clean eating. Follow her journey at


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Jay Harper

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