The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Breast Cancer Awareness products might pad company pockets

Illustration by: Gabriel Orendain-Nechochea / Contributor
Illustration by: Gabriel Orendain-Nechochea / Contributor

One month out of the year, our attentions and retail options are focused on breast cancer in the hope that the more people who are made aware of the issue and the more money raised, the quicker this form of cancer will be eradicated.

In case you thought you were at a never-ending baby shower, this is that month, and the pink ribbons are the symbol for breast cancer awareness.

The problem is not with the use of pink ribbons as the universal symbol, although they do completely leave out men who can also suffer from the disease. And the problem is not with the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not list breast cancer as the leading cause of death among women. (It isn’t even the leading cause of cancer deaths among women.)

The problem lies with the companies that use this time when people are made hyper-aware and hyper-sensitive to breast cancer to turn a profit for themselves.

Oakley Sunglasses is one such company.

Oakley sells breast cancer-awareness edition sunglasses on its online store that retail for $180, with $20 from each purchase going towards a nonprofit breast cancer charity. Twenty dollars is only 11 percent of the price of the sunglasses and doesn’t seem like it would go very far in the medical-research field.

In addition to using the disease as a marketing tool, some companies are actually selling products with both a pink ribbon and ingredients that have been linked to causing breast cancer in medical studies.

According to a study compiled in 2005 titled “Epidemiology of Breast Cancer: an Environmental Disease,” carcinogens and other hormone-disrupting enzymes are linked to breast cancer and found in everyday lotions and perfumes.

Donating $3 from the sale of a lotion that could potentially cause breast cancer towards breast cancer awareness is an innovative marketing strategy, I suppose.

Mazl Ohayan, 20, a business major, said she knew that all ‘pink’ products were not the same, but said that the larger issue for her is the perpetuated idea that breast cancer is the biggest issue
this time of year.

“There are many other diseases and problems facing women and children that are not recognized and that should be,” Ohayan said. “I know breast cancer is huge and I want to support it,
but focus needs to be on all around women’s health issues.”

Ohayan also said the bombardment of breast cancer-related merchandise becomes overwhelming and takes away from the emotional stories and the people who have faced breast

Breast cancer survivor Linda Johnson, 54, said she has mixed feelings about the growing “breast cancer awareness”products on the market.

“I like the fact that it brings more attention and leads more women to get checked and see their doctors but I do not like how it has become so commercialized,” Johnson said.

Johnson said that she likes companies that focus more on survivors, such as herself, rather than on research or the idea that breast cancer is a death sentence that must be eradicated. Focusing on survivors gives people more hope and shows that if you are regularly checked, you can and will survive this disease.

For 2011, the American Cancer Society has reported 288,130 cases and 39,520 deaths related to breast cancer, which is a 86-percent survival rate, odds that would surprise most people.

“I think the breast cancer-related items have gone kinda far,” Dylan Martles, 22, economics major, said. “It seems like it takes away from the seriousness of the disease.”

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