Advocacy and Education Update: Summer 2012

Advocacy and Campaigns

Victory for our Raise a Stink Campaign! Another win for Think Before You Pink ®  

Thanks to thousands of you joining together through our campaigns, we have another Think Before You Pink victory to report. 

Pinkwashing reached a new low last year with Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s commissioned perfume, Promise Me. The perfume contained unlisted chemicals regulated as toxic and hazardous — all wrapped in a pretty pink ribbon. Nearly 5,000 activists asked Komen leadership to immediately recall the perfume, and your messages made it clear you will not stand for pinkwashing. 

As of May 2012, Komen has ended their partnership with TPR Holdings to produce Promise Me perfume. This is a huge victory for all of us working to make sure women’s health comes before corporate profits, and that pink ribbon products do not harm our health. Thank you for raising your voice and demanding an end to pinkwashing. We look forward to continuing this important work with you — if you haven’t yet, make sure to get your free Think Before You Pink Toolkit today

Milking Cancer: Thank you for keeping the pressure on Eli Lilly!

In 2009, we launched our Milking Cancer campaign, demanding Eli Lilly stop making rBGH, an artificial growth hormone found in many dairy products and linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Eli Lilly is the only company in the world making and distributing rBGH; Eli Lilly also manufactures drugs to “prevent” and treat breast cancer. That’s a highly lucrative profit cycle we call pinkwashing. A few weeks ago, over 1,500 BCAction activists sent a letter to Eli Lilly’s CEO demanding he sign our Pledge to Prevent Pinkwashing. Thank you for keeping the pressure on Eli Lilly to ensure everyone’s food supply is free from synthetic hormones, whether they are able to buy organic milk or not. If you’ve not yet taken action, click here to take a stand for food that does not harm our health.

Our Legal Challenge to Myriad’s BRCA 1&2 Gene Patents Moves Forward in the Courts

In July the Federal Circuit will re-hear our lawsuit with the ACLU against Myriad Genetics. 

 BCAction joined the lawsuit challenging Myriad Genetics’s patents on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes (the “breast cancer genes”) in 2009. Myriad’s monopoly prevents anyone else from even examining the genes and creates barriers to scientific research and medical care relating to breast and ovarian cancer. It also limits women’s ability to get second opinions when they receive ambiguous genetic testing results, which happens disproportionately to women from ethnic minorities, including African Americans, Latinas and Asian Americans. We are the only national breast cancer organization named as a plaintiff in this historic lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation.

The Federal Circuit is scheduled to rehear the Myriad case in July after the Supreme Court sent the case back to the Federal Circuit in light of new case law on gene patenting. We believe this is good news, and we will be working with partners and national activists to respond to the hearing. To learn more, read our testimony at a recent U.S. Patent and Trademark Hearing.

Safe Chemicals Advocacy

Recently BCAction members joined over 115,000 activists in the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition to petition Congress for stricter regulation of toxic chemicals.

We are committed to stopping breast cancer before it starts through stronger regulation of toxins linked to breast cancer. We cannot shop our way to health and safety–our health and safety depend on stricter chemical regulation. The chemical industry is spending millions of dollars lobbying Congress to block meaningful progress in Washington. Last year alone they spent $52 million lobbying Congress to block protections from toxic chemicals, some of them linked to breast cancer.

But when people band together to demand change, powerful things happen. We are proud to join our partners in the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition in working for the passage of the Safe Chemicals Act, which would create the common sense limits on toxins we need. You can take action for a safer world for all of us, right now – ask your Senators to sponsor the Safe Chemicals Act of 2012

Safe Cosmetics Advocacy

A recent report out of California shows how badly we need meaningful health protections that prioritize the health of vulnerable people like children, teenagers, and women of reproductive age.

In April the California Department of Toxic Substances Control released a report showing how some nail care products sold in California – despite claiming to be free of the “toxic trio” (toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalate or DBP) – actually contain high levels of toluene and DBP.

We’re outraged by this report that shows nail care manufacturers are blatantly lying about what’s in their products. How can salon owners and workers know what’s in the products that they are exposed to daily for long periods of time (8 hour shifts) if the labeling is incorrect?

Meanwhile, cosmetics companies — including many that put pink ribbons on their products — are fighting to keep their products among the least-regulated in the country. But together with partners at the Safe Cosmetics Coalition, BCAction members are demanding change loud and clear. We’re advocating for the Safe Cosmetics Act, which would create stronger regulation of chemicals in personal care products that harm our health. We’ve had enough of lying labels and carcinogenic products. 

Take action right now for safer personal care products that don’t increase our risk of breast cancer.

Education and Outreach

ICC’s Biennial Symposium on Minorities, the Medically Underserved and Health Equity

Sahru Keiser, our Program Associate of Education and Mobilization, is currently at the Intercultural Cancer Council’s Biennial Symposium on Minorities, the Medically Underserved and Health Equity. She is presenting a poster about our speakers’ bureau pilot project, where women can learn useful advocacy tools and become skilled at motivating others to take action on breast cancer issues.

Communities of color bear a heavier burden of disease; African-American and Latina women are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women. Studies also show women of color having differences in disease presentation, with more aggressive breast cancers developing at earlier ages. 

Through our speaker’s bureau program, we seek to create space for conversations with underserved communities where their experiences and collective wisdom are highlighted to work on issues that are relevant and pressing to them. To learn more or get involved, contact Sahru at 

Free Educational Webinars

Since we launched our free educational webinar series almost a year ago, thousands of you across the country—and world—have tuned in to learn about critical breast cancer issues. Together with terrific partner organizations and guest presenters, we’ve covered the politics of breast cancer, gene patenting, inequities in breast cancer, breast cancer screening, and a whole lot more. We’ve loved hearing from you via Twitter, Facebook, email, and phone about what you’re learning and how the webinars are helping you think differently or more deeply about breast cancer advocacy. If you missed any of these webinars or loved them so much you want to view them again, click here to view past webinars. 

Pink Ribbons, Inc.

Pink Ribbons, Inc., the new documentary about pink ribbon marketing, premiered in the United States a few weeks ago. It’s exciting to see our former executive director, Barbara Brenner, and our Think Before You Pink® campaign on the big screen and to hear from members across the country about how this film is energizing and inspiring them. BCAction members, staff and Board members have been at a number of screenings across the country to answer questions, facilitate discussions, distribute materials and toolkits. Thank you to everyone who is getting out there to help people turn their outrage to action.  Click here to see if the film is showing in a theatre near you. If not, or if you’d like to host your own screening, get in touch with Sahru Keiser at

Think Before You Pink Toolkit

And if you haven’t already, make sure to download a free copy of our Think Before You Pink Toolkit, full of resources and information you need to challenge pinkwashers and make real change to address and end the breast cancer epidemic. Share the link with your friends and network! Help us put the power of change in thousands of activists hands by distributing 10,000 toolkits across the country.

This entry was posted in BCA Action Alerts.