Breast Cancer, Pinkwashing, and the Importance of Prevention

November 29, 2023 @ 12:00pm (AKST)

Breast cancer is a disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control. Many breast cancers form in the ducts or lobules. Despite progress in modern medicine, breast cancer still remains the predominant form of cancer in the United States. While finding cures for breast cancer is crucial, directing resources toward prevention will have a much larger impact on society by reducing incidences of the disease.

Prevention efforts can decrease the occurrence of breast cancer, alleviating individuals from the physical, emotional, and financial hardships associated with the diagnosis. Research indicates that over half of cancer cases are preventable, with environmental chemicals playing a large role in their development. Given that many of these chemical hazards can be avoided, they represent opportunities for proactive prevention. In Alaska, female breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among Alaska Native women. An increasing number of breast cancer cases cannot be explained by known risk factors such as family history, age or reproductive history.

On Wednesday, November 29th, at noon AKST, CHE-Alaska will be joined by Nancy Buermeyer of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners and Krystal Redman (KR) of Breast Cancer Action.

Nancy Buermeyer, director of program and policy at Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, will discuss her organization’s work in eliminating toxic chemicals and other environmental exposures linked to the disease. For the last 3 decades, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners has been leading the way for science-based public education and policy advocacy to reduce the risk of breast cancer and other health harms liked to environmental chemicals.

Dr. Krystal Redman (KR), DrPH, MHA, executive director of Breast Cancer Action, will talk about pinkwashing. This term, coined in 2002 by Breast Cancer Action, refers to when a company or organization claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, while at the same time manufacturing, producing, or selling products that are linked to the disease. KR will discuss Breast Cancer Action’s Think Before You Pink campaign, launched in 2002, which calls for more transparency and accountability from companies that take part in breast cancer fundraising, and encourages consumers to ask critical questions about pink ribbon propaganda.

ACAT recently released Protecting Our Mamaqs: An Environmental Health Toolkit for Breast Cancer Prevention, which is designed to train community health aides and other health care professionals about environmental contaminants that are linked with breast cancer. “Mamaqs” is the Yupik work for breasts – the title reflects our commitment to addressing high rates of breast cancer among Alaska Native peoples.

CHE-Alaska is part of CHE‘s broader network, which is an international partnership of almost 5,000 individuals and organizations in 87 countries and all 50 US states that are committed to addressing environmental impacts on human health across the lifespan.

We encourage you to become a CHE partner so you can receive their monthly email newsletters, announcements about upcoming webinars, and other updates on a range of environmental health topics. Visit to learn more.

Follow us!

Questions? Contact us any time.