From Pink to Green: Disease Prevention and the Environmental Breast Cancer Movement

From Pink to Green: Disease Prevention and the Environmental Breast Cancer Movement

From Pink to Green: Disease Prevention and the Environmental Breast Cancer Movement

From Pink to Green: Disease Prevention and the Environmental Breast Cancer Movement

Synopsis

From the early 1980s, the U.S. environmental breast cancer movement has championed the goal of eradicating the disease by emphasizing the importance of reducing--even eliminating exposure to chemicals and toxins. From Pink to Green chronicles the movement's disease prevention philosophy from the beginning.

Challenging the broader cultural milieu of pink ribbon symbolism and breast cancer "awareness" campaigns, this movement has grown from a handful of community-based organizations into a national entity, shaping the cultural, political, and public health landscape. Much of the activists' everyday work revolves around describing how the so called "cancer industry" downplays possible environmental links to protect their political and economic interests and they demand that the public play a role in scientific, policy, and public health decision-making to build a new framework of breast cancer prevention.

From Pink to Green successfully explores the intersection between breast cancer activism and the environmental health sciences, incorporating public and scientific debates as well as policy implications to public health and environmental agendas.

Excerpt

While shopping at a San Francisco bookstore in November 2000, I decided to purchase a postcard created by Susan Liroff of Spitfire Graphics, in Oakland, California. On the front of the postcard was a color photo of a topless white woman with short blond hair. A horizontal scar filled the space on her chest where her right breast used to be. With one hand on her hip, she used her other hand to hold a sign that read, “INVISIBILITY EQUALS DEATH.” A chronology of the increasing rates of breast cancer incidence filled the space above the woman’s head: “1964—1 in 20; 1980—1 in 14; 1994—1 in 8.” The text to the left of her sign read, “Since 1971, more than 1 trillion dollars have been spent on cancer research and treatment.” The back of the postcard contained the rest of the organization’s message: “Breast Cancer is the number one killer of women between the ages of 35 and 50. The cancer industry continues to ignore the link between epidemic cancer rates and the contamination of air, food and water. We demand that our lives be valued over financial profit and that adequate health care be available to all!”

When I took the postcard to the counter, the cashier—a white man in his late twenties—picked it up and paused, looking at both sides. Then he placed it on the counter and said, “I can’t charge you for this. This is for breast cancer. There shouldn’t be a charge for this.” Receiving the postcard for free left me feeling pleasantly surprised, yet it also spoke to the powerful resonance of breast cancer and the political culture surrounding it in contemporary American life. Liroff’s postcard focuses on a small but increasingly influential facet of this political culture: the environmental breast cancer movement.

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