Why Breast Cancer Awareness Doesn’t Matter

admin September 12, 2011

Recently there’s been a bit of an uproar over some “breast cancer awareness” games on Facebook.  Women have been sent messages about sharing their bra color and most recently, fake pregnancy and cravings.  I can understand how bra color might be related to breast cancer – at least it’s about breasts!  (Although how is anyone supposed to know that this has anything to do with breast cancer, since it doesn’t say so?)  But fake pregnancy?  As many pointed out, it’s not only ridiculous, it’s also insensitive to those who have fought breast cancer and those suffering from infertility.

The games are out of control.  Fake statuses that actually have nothing to do with breast cancer at all just confuse people, they don’t bring any awareness to breast cancer.  They also don’t actually do anything to support people struggling with breast cancer, or…well, do anything at all.  They’re childish little games.  And no, I don’t participate in any of these (I got sent “the email” the first couple times, but people stopped sending them when they realized I wasn’t going to do it).

My question, though, is: why are we worrying about breast cancer awareness in the first place?  We are all painfully aware that far too many women suffer from breast cancer at some point.  It’s not exactly a secret.  Why don’t we actually start talking about prevention?

Why Breast Cancer Awareness Doesn’t Matter

Preventing breast cancer – not being aware of it, and not curing it – is the real issue!  We’ll never “cure” breast cancer anyway by looking for a drug or procedure to make it go away once it’s there.  The only way to actually battle and beat breast cancer is to prevent it from occurring in the first place.

Cancer, like any illness, has an underlying cause.  It can only be “cured” or prevented by removing whatever that underlying cause is.  Most cancer is caused by lifestyle choices, either deliberate or unknowing (most people are doing the best they can with what they know) or environmental factors.  Currently, 50% of people can expect to get some form of cancer in their life time, which is a huge increase over the last 20 years.  It’s not genetic.  It’s not “just one of those things.”  There are a lot of factors that influence whether or not cancer develops.

When we understand the factors that influence cancer, we can actually work to prevent cancer or “cure” it.  That is the message we need to be spreading.  And although some would argue differently, I believe this message is one of hope:

“You’re not stuck with ‘the luck of the draw.’  There is something you can do.  You don’t have to live with cancer or the knowledge that you’re predisposed to it and may develop it.”

We can take control of our health instead of feeling that we need to rely on fate, doctors, and drugs.  Learning about health and the ways to improve our health is a lot more proactive and important than any walk (which only raises money for more doctors and drugs) and certainly more than any silly internet game.

The Facts About Breast Cancer

Let’s combat cancer with facts. 

  • Sugar and refined flours fuel cancer cells and cause them grow more rapidly.
  • Vegetable oils are usually rancid by the time they reach the stores, which means they contain unlabeled trans fats.  These, too, can contribute to cancer.
  • Healthy, saturated fats like butter, coconut oil, lard (from pastured pigs), etc. help our bodies to absorb and use crucial fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K.  These vitamins can help to combat and prevent cancer.
  • Plants (fruits and vegetables) contain many nutrients and phyto-chemicals that prevent cancer.
  • Breastfeeding reduces both mom and baby’s cancer risk, and the longer you do it, the less likely cancer is.  Conversely, formula feeding increases cancer risk.
  • Smoking increases cancer risk.
  • Being overweight increases cancer risk. (Which is more likely in people who eat high-carb, high- sugar, vegetable-oil-filled diets.  Higher fat and protein diets with fewer carbs are associated with decreased cancer risk, as well as low rates of obesity.)
  • Aluminum in antiperspirants is linked to cancer.
  • Use of artificial sweeteners is linked to cancer.
  • Preservatives, pesticides, and other chemicals found in food are linked to cancer.
  • If we can do the best we can to prevent cancer in the first place, we won’t need all these walks and rallies and games to try to “fight” breast cancer.  I don’t generally support all these foundations anyway, because they only research more mainstream drugs and procedures to “fight” cancer that already exists, but are really just poison.  Killing cancer with poison isn’t (usually) necessary because it destroys your body as well.  It is much safer and smarter to make good choices about diet and lifestyle to be as healthy as possible.  And yes, it absolutely makes a difference.

Does breast cancer awareness matter to you?  Why or why not?

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  1. It's refreshing to see some information out there about the link between diet and cancer. I too am exasperated with the pointless efforts of fighting cancer with more doctors and more drugs while ignoring its cause. Have you read The China Study? I think you would really enjoy it if you haven't!


  2. This is so true. I often say that if I become anymore aware I'll go crazy! But it seems that often all this awareness and money is directed toward drug companies and lobbying rather than education, prevention and real cures. If they really cared about women getting cancer they would inform them of the link between abortion and breast cancer. Thanks for being bold enough to post this.


  3. Right on. I agree so much with what you've said!

    Another bit of advice (which probably is obvious to many readers of this blog already) is to stay away from mammograms. The extra radiation does your girls no favors. If you are still worried and want a safe alternative to mammograms, consider thermograms. I personally have had a breast thermogram and believe it is a sound idea. It won't prevent cancer, but it could give a little peace of mind.


  4. Isn't cancer a failure of our immune systems? Don't our bodies routinely clear out numerous cancer cells every day?

    Ciao, Pavil


  5. at 32 years old my sister in law was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. cancer which was discovered while she was breastfeeding her second child. she has lost her hair due to chemo, her breast to a double mastectomy, and her energy to the drugs that she is prescribed to keep her alive so she can see her boys grow up. she was and remains a healthy eater and excersizes regularly. so as a person with a close relative suffering from this illness i take great pride in my pink ribbons, my walks, and my pink hair extension (which will probably give me cancer). although "awareness" is noun to which this author objects you can be "aware" of how to prevent something, if that makes you feel better. as for me, if my facebook status confuses some but makes me sister in law feel supported then i will post my fake pregnancy craving. if my pink ribbon makes somebody stop and feel themselves up, then it made someone aware of an issue. furthermore, the making strides against breast cancer walk that i am participating in, uses much of the proceeds to fund programs that help women battling breast cancer get help cleaning their homes, making meals, getting wigs, and feeling as "normal" as they can during a time when their life is anything but normal. those of us with pink ribbon profile pics, statuses that don't make sense, and pink ribbon paraphernalia, we are not only spreading the "awareness'' that is objected to, but supporting those who we know and love that weren't "aware" until it was too late.


  6. I used to work for a breast-specific radiologist who had a strong interest in natural health – she used to get so angry with the deluge of pink every October, and things like Komen pairing with KFC for pink fried chicken buckets. I'm sure she is equally irritated with the Facebook games. We would have so many patients come in, sent by the OB-GYN or family practitioner for breast pain. They didn't have cancer, they were consuming mass quantities of caffeine.

    There were so many things that women could be doing to have better health and work to prevent cancer, and it was always so frustrating for her, because she was an advocate in limiting radiation exposure. She tried to educate local doctors on how to educate their patients, so they wouldn't display the symptoms that would indicate a mammogram would be necessary (we're still waiting for thermography in our area), and it seemed like no one would listen.

    I'm not against modern medicine – it can do great things, like liver transplants, restoring sight, and helping burn victims. But, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and right now there are far too few mainstream doctors who are listening to those speaking up about prevention.


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  8. Whereas this article touches on some truth, it leaves a whole lot out! The author ridicules the cancer games, but isn't that what all cancer is, a game? The medical society has created a huge problem then assumes the position of savior coming to everyone's rescue as long as you have a whole lot of money, or good insurance coverage! A dear friend of mine died 2 years ago of "breast cancer". She was 53 and left 3 youngin's. Let's see… what did this woman do wrong according to this author? (Kate?) She birthed all four of her babies at home, no drugs. She nursed all four of her babies for at least two years. She never smoked. She never used artificial sweeteners. She raised her own goats, and made her own cheese from their milk. She raised her own chickens and ate the eggs and the chickens, all animals were fed organic food. She grew her own vegetables and fruits, canned them and froze them right out of her garden. She was not overweight. She did cleanses every year. She used coconut oi, butter and olive oil. She stayed away from all pork, no lard. She distilled her drinking water and took vitamins, good wholesome vitamins not the One-A-Day trash vitamins. She never bought sugar, ever… She used molasses, honey and apple juice for sweeteners. But, she got cancer, WHY??? She did everything this author chastises us for not doing!!! IMO… she was given vaccines when she was a baby. (BTW… none of her children have been vaccinated.) Vaccines inject cancers into babies that lay dormant for some time, never know when they are going to strike. So, modernalternativemama… there HAS to be another reason than the ones you listed. We have an epidemic of cancer in this country and taking out a bat to hit women that are either too fat or using artificial sweetner to not be fat, is NOT the flippin' answer! I have a hard time with holier-than-thou people who THINK they have all the answers. Give women a break! Life is hard enough! People do not need to be beaten or humiliated or chastised because the truth is, we are all just doing the very best we can at the moment! Nobody is getting out of this world alive anyway!


  9. I am a breast cancer survivor and I don’t participate in those games. I don’t think they “raise awareness.” I do think education about breast cancer is important, however.

    “The only way to actually battle and beat breast cancer is to prevent it from occurring in the first place.” It would be ideal to prevent breast cancer from occurring, but thousands of former patients who are now disease-free prove that current treatments _can_ beat breast cancer. In fact, when detected early (mammogram!) it is eminently curable.

    “There are a lot of factors that influence whether or not cancer develops.” Which is why no one can or should promise that cancer can be prevented. “Influence” is not “cause.” There are hundreds of types of cancer with who-knows-how-many risk factors and nobody-knows-what causes. Nonsmokers get lung cancer. Infants get leukemia. How can you prevent those cancers?

    “Currently, 50% of people can expect to get some form of cancer in their life time.” That’s the percentage for men. For women, it’s about one in three. Still too high, I know . . .

    “Sugar and refined flours fuel cancer cells.” Can you provide substantiation for this? I’m inclined to believe that certain substances do fuel cancer cells, but do they cause normal cells to mutate in the first place? If not, you can’t _prevent_ cancer by avoiding those substances.

    Cancer foundations “only research more mainstream drugs.” On one page alone at // you can link to about 200 reports of recent research on prevention, not drugs, including “Drinking plus hormones may up cancer risk” and “Strong exercise may cut breast cancer risk.”

    “Killing cancer with poison isn’t (usually) necessary because it destroys your body as well.” Chemo _is_ poison to cancer cells. (By the way, some chemo drugs are derived from plants, such as the Madagascar periwinkle, which was used as a folk remedy for centuries.) Are there nasty side effects? Absolutely. What each patient has to decide is if the likelihood of the drugs’ effectiveness outweighs the possible side effects, as no one knows ahead of time how the drugs will affect them. When presented with the statistics concerning my cancer I opted out of chemo. My friend chose it because her cancer was more advanced. Chemo did not destroy her body; she is well today, thank heaven. This woman lived by almost every point on your list: she ate well (raised her family on a farm where they produced most of their food), breastfed nine babies, didn’t smoke, and was thin. She had also never had a mammogram. She did, however, have an aunt and a grandmother who had had breast cancer. Could her cancer have been prevented?


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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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