Milking Cancer Campaign Brief 2012

Do you know what may be lurking in your ice cream? Or your cheese? Across the United States, people are exposed to the artificial growth hormone rBGH in common dairy products they eat everyday. Breast Cancer Action is building on our past success in getting some brands to stop using milk sourced from rBGH-treated cows with the goal of eliminating rBGH from the market altogether. It’s time to tell Eli Lilly to STOP MILKING CANCER.

What is rBGH and why should I care?
rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) also known as rbST (recombinant bovine somatotropin) is an artificial growth hormone given to dairy cows to increase milk production. It’s linked to increased risk of breast cancer and is used in 1/3 of all dairy cows in the United States dairy industry. rBGH is bad for our health, and it’s bad for cows treated with it, causing mastitis and requiring antibiotic intervention. BCAction wants rBGH out of our food supply. While women continue to be diagnosed with breast cancer at alarmingly high rates, industry must adopt the highest standards of precaution to protect our health, which means eliminating all environmental factors linked to cancer.

What’s Eli Lilly got to do with it?
Eli Lilly is the sole worldwide manufacturer and distributor of the cancer-linked artificial growth hormone rBGH. Making this hormone that’s bad for our health goes against the company’s three core values – integrity, excellence, and respect for people. Because Eli Lilly is the one and only source of rBGH, it’s more efficient to go straight to them and move beyond a company-by-company approach, asking dairy product companies one by one to stop using milk sourced from rBGH-treated cows. We need to protect all our health now, including vulnerable groups like children and pregnant women, whose bodies are more susceptible to harmful environmental toxins, and low-income communities that may not have the choice of whether to buy rBGH-free dairy products. That’s why BCAction is taking this opportunity to go directly to Eli Lilly and demand that they stop making the hormone.

In addition to producing and selling breast cancer-linked rBGH, Eli Lilly simultaneously markets Gemzar to treat breast cancer and Evista to reduce risk of the disease. By doing this, Eli Lilly has created a highly lucrative profit cycle that contributes to increased risk of breast cancer, aims to prevent it, and treats it. At Breast Cancer Action we call this pinkwashing.

We’re urging Eli Lilly to sign our Pledge to Prevent Pinkwashing and commit to:

  1. Taking all necessary action to ensure that the products they make do not put people at increased risk for breast cancer.
  2. Following the precautionary principle and stop making rBGH and any other products that are suspected of harming human health.
  3. Never engaging in pinkwashing by producing, selling, or endorsing products in the name of breast cancer that themselves put women at increased risk for developing the disease.

How to Take Action in 2012:
Help build on the momentum activists have developed for years through direct corporate campaigning, national education efforts, media attention, and a video featured in the new film Pink Ribbons, Inc.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this page erroneously stated a link between rBGH and obesity and diabetes. We apologize for the error.